Due to their similar population size, inclinations toward innovation and diverse
international market access, Israel and Portugal could benefit tremendously from
partnerships in the renewable energy sector, officials from both places agreed
“Portuguese companies see Israel as a hub for innovation also
with a connection to the United States,” said Carlos Nuno Oliveira, Portugal’s
secretary of state for entrepreneurship, competitiveness and
“Portugal should be seen as a platform to Latin America,
especially to Brazil, and to Portuguese- speaking countries in
Oliveira was addressing a group of Israeli and Portuguese
officials and entrepreneurs, who had gathered to discuss future cooperation in
the energy sector on Monday at the Tel Aviv and Central Israel Chamber of
Both Portugal and Israel are “small-medium” sized countries
with open economics, modern infrastructure and a strong focus on innovation,
according to Oliveira. Joining the Portuguese delegation that day was also
Miguel de Almeida e Sousa, the ambassador of Portugal to Israel.
are a lot of opportunities between Portugal and Israel, especially because now
Portugal is starting to see more of the hitech field, the biotech field, the
renewable energy field,” said Arie Zief, vice president of the Federation of
Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC).
The Portuguese government has
instituted a strategic program for innovation, for which Israel has been an
“inspiration,” and has also reformed its venture capital sector, Oliveira
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Portugal, he stressed, is a place filled with skilled human
capital and could be an ideal match for Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs in
the renewable sector.
“Our bilateral trade figures don’t really express
the potential of what is yet to be had,” Oliveira said. “This is a first but
very meaningful meeting here.”
“I think that this shows us how
complimentary we can be,” De Almeida e Sousa added.
Oliveira then took it
upon himself at the meeting to invite a delegation from the Israel Export
Institute and the FICC to come on a mission to Portugal to meet with company
Israel and Portugal have many avenues through
which the countries could advance further renewable energy cooperation, two of
which include direct bilateral agreements or going through the EUREKA
intergovernmental program for research and development, said Ayala Karniol,
energy sector director at the Israel and Europe Research and Development
Directorate (ISERD). Another option would be applying for a joint research
project through the Energy 2013 project FP7, the Seventh Framework Program of
the European Union, Karniol added.
In the renewable energy sector,
Portugal thus far excels most in hydroelectric and wind power development, with
each accounting for about 51 percent and 41% of the country’s green energy
production respectively, said Isabel Soares of the Portuguese Energy Agency.
Like Israel, Portugal is still predominantly relying on imported fossil fuels,
which powered 76.7% of the European country’s electricity supply in 2010,
according to Soares.
Portugal is therefore committed to more and more
switching over to renewable energy sources, including biofuels and solar, as
well as improving energy efficiency, she said. The country’s Energy Policy – New
Vision 2009 plan called for a steep reduction in energy use and increase in
energy efficiency, with primary energy consumption reaching a 25% reduction in
2020 as compared to 2007 – 5% higher than the mandated European Union target,
“Portugal has an ambitious energy sector with deployment
of the renewable sectors and clean technologies but also several flagship
projects on energy efficiency,” she said.
Oliveira said that he is
talking throughout his delegation’s week in Israel to academics, researchers and
policymakers, such as the ministers of science and technology and industry,
trade and labor as well as officials from the Foreign Ministry.
an official visit of the Portuguese government and I’m here to foster economic
relationships with Israel in several sectors,” he told The Jerusalem Post after
the event. “One of the sectors is renewable energies but we want to foster in
other areas that can be mutual value to both countries.”
Israel, he stressed, each place a great emphasis on innovation and developing
Together, the two countries can both develop
their internal markets and approach international markets, according to
“We want to foster this relationship based on
entrepreneurship,” he said.
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