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Partners For Change: Energy

We've fallen behind our competitors in energy efficiency and are in danger of leaving future generations of Americans in a precarious position of overwhelming debt and dependence....our national energy policy will promote national security, energy diversity, economic prosperity and environmental protection.

Because America is a large country with great riches, it could get away without an energy policy. Israel could never afford that luxury. As a small nation with no significant natural resources, totally dependent on imported oil, it has had to diversify its energy sources and to place a high premium on preserving its environment.

Expand the Use of Renewable Energy Sources

While it is not likely that Americans will be willing to drive smaller cars or accept significantly higher gas taxes, as Israelis have done, Israel still has much to offer the United States in methods for reducing energy use. In particular, Clinton and Gore emphasized the importance of expanding renewable energy sources, an area in which Israel has long been an international leader. In fact, Israel is the world's largest per capita user of solar water heaters in the home, as well as the location of some of the largest solar power stations.

Israel has also made advances in wind energy, a technology that utilizes pond water to absorb and store solar energy, research on splitting water using high temperature hydrogen and electric car batteries. More specific innovations include:

  • A calcium cell battery developed at Tel Aviv University that is safer and lasts longer than conventional batteries.
  • A solar energy tower designed at the Weizmann Institute that concentrates the sun's rays to drive gas turbines for high-efficiency generation of electricity.
  • A Technion-designed tower that uses wind to generate electricity.
  • A microorganism developed at Tel Aviv University to eat crude oil in tanker hulls and another one to help clean beaches after oil spills.

Cooperative Research & Development

  • In 1984, the Department of Energy and Israeli Ministry of Energy signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in energy research and development. The agreement provides for the exchange of scientists, engineers and other specialists for participation in exchanges, research, development and joint projects. Areas of possible cooperation include: solar energy, photovoltaics, biomass, energy conservation and fossil energy, including oil shale and coal.
  • In 1987, the Department of Energy and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Development signed a similar MOU in basic energy sciences. Areas of possible cooperation include: high energy and nuclear physics, applied mathematical sciences, magnetic fusion, and health and environmental sciences.
  • In early 1992, a workshop was held on computational chemistry. Other workshops have been periodically held here and in Israel.