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U.S.-Israel Formal Agreements: Agreement Concerning Energy Cooperation

(November 7, 2005)

EPACT Section 986
Report on the U.S. – Israel Agreement Concerning Energy Cooperation

Section 986 Requirement

Section 986 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58) enacted August 8, 2005, requires the Secretary of Energy to submit to the Senate Committees on Energy and Natural Resources and Foreign Relations and the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and International Relations a report on cooperation under the “Agreement between the U.S.

Department of Energy (DOE) and the Israeli Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MOEI) Concerning Energy Cooperation” (Agreement). Section 986 requires the report to describe:

  1. the ways in which the United States and Israel have cooperated on energy research and development activities under the Agreement;
  2. projects initiated pursuant to the Agreement; and
  3. plans for future cooperation and joint projects under the Agreement.

This report is submitted in response to this requirement.

Background and History of Agreement

On February 1, 1996, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Israeli Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, since reorganized as the Ministry of National Infrastructure (MONI), signed the Agreement to establish a framework for energy cooperation. The Agreement entered into force in February 2000 and was automatically renewed in February 2005 for an additional five-year period.

The Agreement facilitates scientific visits to each country’s national research facilities and makes possible joint research projects to develop new energy technologies that will provide power for the 21 st Century. Areas of energy technology cooperation covered by the Agreement include: renewable energy; energy efficiency; fossil energy, including oil, gas and coal; and electric power production and transmission. Further, the agreement encourages the development of energy projects that are of regional interest and could enhance the Middle East peace process and support economic development of the region.

Activities under the Agreement include meetings among scientists regarding the development of high temperature super-conductivity; joint demonstration and testing of advanced battery technologies; and joint design and study of combined-cycle solar power and natural gas technology with the objective of constructing a demonstration power plant.

Implementation Agreements

There are three Implementation Agreements under the Agreement:

  • An Implementing Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy, signed February 22, 2000;
  • An Implementation Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Electric and Hybrid Buses, signed February 22, 2000 and completed in 2005; and
  • A third Implementation Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of High Temperature Superconductivity, signed October 23, 2001.

The activities undertaken pursuant to these Implementation Agreements are described in detail below.

Implementation Agreement 1 for Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy:

In the area of renewables, DOE has been working with Israel on solar technology. This is a trilateral effort among DOE, the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel to demonstrate a 1 0-Megawatt Integrated Solar Combined Cycle Power Plant, named “Noor Al Salaam,” or “Light of Peace,” at Zaafarana, Egypt. This project would combine U.S. central receiver technologies (heliostats, tower reflectors, control systems, etc.) developed primarily by McDonnell Douglas Corporation (now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company) and Israel’s solar beam down receiver technology with natural gas to power high efficiency combined cycle gas turbines. This system could have many applications in a region with ample resources of natural gas and solar energy. This activity is supported by DOE, the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF), the Egyptian NREA, Israel’s Ormat Industries, Ltd., Rotem Industries, Ltd., and Weizmann Institute of Science, with the University of Alabama in Huntsville as the prime contractor. A pilot program involving this technology, partially carried out as part of the $5.5M 50/50 cost-shared USISTF program, was completed in 2000.

Thus far, the partners have received $2.7 million in support from the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation. Of these funds, $1.4 million was contributed to support development of the project in Israel and an additional $1.3 million was provided to McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). The companies involved (McDonnell Douglas/Boeing, Ormat, and Rotem) have more than matched these funds. All of the system components were tested individually and functioned successfully per design specifications; however, the components were not tested working together as a complete system. As a result, full verification of the receiver at the temperatures and flow rates required has not yet been completed.

To promote progress on this promising technology, the U.S. Agency for International Development has provided an initial $1 million for a system definition study through DOE as a grant to the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). As part of this grant, UAH is seeking a U.S. industrial partner to serve as the prime contractor and systems integrator for the project.

The prime contractor will support the system definition study and seek funds to support construction. The estimated cost to construct the plant is between $20-30 million. Egypt is willing to provide in-kind support for a commercial demonstration of this project for a 10 to 20 MW combined cycle plant with a 10 MW solar thermal input; its support includes the land for a selected location at Zaafarana, on the Red Sea coast, access to natural gas and professional support through NREA. Pending a final review by DOE at the Golden Field Office, the Request for Information (RFI) is scheduled to be released in early 2006.

Implementation Agreement 2 in the Field of Electric and Hybrid Buses

DOE also has an implementation agreement with Israel on hybrid bus technology. The objective of this agreement is to compare the advanced zinc-air battery system developed by Electric Fuel Corporation (EFC), a subsidiary of Israel's Arotech Corporation, with other battery systems developed by DOE as they are applied to electric buses used in urban public transportation in both the United States and in Israel. EFC is a U.S. corporation with R&D and manufacturing facilities in Israel and in Auburn, Alabama, and is recognized as one of the leaders in zinc-air fuel cell technology and applications.

On November 28, 2001, EFC announced the first on-road demonstration drives of its zero-emission electric bus using the zinc-air battery system, under a multi-phase U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) research program. The Zinc-Air Battery Bus Demonstration Program, initiated in 1998, and funded by EFC, FTA, GE Global Research, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Nevada, is aimed at developing and demonstrating a full-sized all electric, zero-emission transit bus utilizing zinc-air battery technology, and assessing the applicability of this technology for transit. In subsequent phases of the program, ultra capacitors were incorporated to enhance system performance, the control system was optimized, and additional vehicle tests were conducted, as well as benchmarking of the zinc-air battery system in comparison with other battery technologies.

In each phase, the bus exceeded the performance design goals, and demonstrated that the zinc-air battery system is capable of powering a full-size transit bus for a full-day operation, and is promising for transit use if infrastructure issues related to the zinc system can be resolved. Phase IV testing of FTA's zero emission zinc-air bus research effort, which included additional performance testing using alternative zinc morphology, was recently completed successfully, with a report on the findings expected early in 2006.

Implementation Agreement 3 in the Field of High Temperature Superconductivity

The third implementation agreement with Israel on high temperature superconductivity (HTS) was signed on October 23, 2001. High temperature superconductors are ceramic materials that carry electricity without loss and operate at temperatures that permit the use of inexpensive refrigeration, such as liquid nitrogen. The use of superconductivity can lead to great efficiencies in energy usage by removing the loss of electricity during electricity transmission (grid loss). The energy savings from grid loss increases the power transmission capacity of existing power plants and, by permitting the transmission of more power, lessens the need to fund and build additional plants, which helps maintain the environment and prevents additional CO 2 emissions.

The activities under this implementing agreement support multilateral cooperation in superconductivity under the auspices of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Cooperative Programme for Assessing the Impacts of High-Temperature Superconductivity on the Electric Power Sector. The objectives of this cooperation are to better enable each party to keep abreast of progress being made toward applications in the power sector, to catalyze concerted consideration of issues that have not yet been subject to definitive attention by individual participants, and to provide a network and venue that may lay the basis for future international cooperation on joint projects.

The Operating Agent for the IEA HTS Agreement is Argonne National Laboratory. Israel’s Tel Aviv University is active in the cooperation at the IEA, where it currently holds the Executive Chair. The work program is currently focused on the exchange of information. Activities include preparation of essays on outstanding issues; fostering scientific debate and appropriate action by holding workshops and seminars; evaluating and synthesizing the results of on-going work; establishing a contacts register of names, addresses of institutions and published documentation; and promoting international cooperation and planning that may form the basis for future joint projects, including hardware projects.

Additional Activities

In addition to these activities, DOE co-sponsored a 2003 conference in Israel on energy titled “Cooperation for Energy Independence of Democracies in the 21 st Century” (further information is available at, which brought together high-ranking officials from six countries, including Israel. The conference was organized with the support of DOE, MONI, and the American Jewish Congress.

As a result of this conference, Argonne National Laboratory awarded a contract to Technion University to evaluate the potential usefulness of laser surface texturing (or dimpling) for engine and drive train applications. Laser texturing may be used in mechanical face seals and other engine and drive train components (piston rings, cylinder liners, wrist pins, etc.), where the dimpled surfaces can serve as reservoirs for oil, thus increasing the hydrodynamic lubrication efficiency. Such technology can lead to more energy efficient performance, reduced wear, greater durability and hence reliability.

Future Activities

The Department of Energy looks forward to working with Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure in support of these activities. With the renewal of the IEA Implementing Agreement on HTS in the summer of 2005, the partners will pursue new areas of interest, including super-conducting flywheels and HTS as an energy storage mechanism. DOE will continue to support the Noor Al-Salaam project as it seeks an industrial partner and moves toward deployment. Finally, the Department of Energy looks forward to the report on the completion of Phase IV of FTA’s testing of the zinc-air battery system.


The Department of Energy
Office of Policy and International Affairs (PI)
Office of International Science and Technology Cooperation (PI-31)