'Israel should be ‘test bed’ for renewable energy'

Prof. Eugene Kandel tells industry exports in Eilot Regional Council hall that renewable energy is good public policy.

Solar panels 311 (photo credit: courtesy of AORA)
Solar panels 311
(photo credit: courtesy of AORA)
Renewable energy innovation should be used to turn Israel into a “beta site” for the world and help the country shed the image of being the “source of its problems,” Prof. Eugene Kandel told industry experts at the Eilot Regional Council hall opposite Kibbutz Yotvata on Thursday.
Kandel, the head of the National Economic Council of the Prime Minister’s Office, was addressing participants at the second day of the Eilat- Eilot Forum on Renewable Energy Policy, held to address issues in the field ahead of the annual Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference in November. He was a member of the Trajtenberg Committee on Socioeconomic Change.
In the face of increasing populations and consumption demands, the entire world must find ways to conserve energy and water, Kandel explained.
“We have to be way, way more efficient in the way we use our resources than we were before,” he said. “What’s interesting is that Israel was dealing with these challenges for a very long time. We have very little land, very little water and until recently, very little resources.”
Israel, therefore, has a lot of experience learning to conserve and devising creative means to handle such issues – “not because we were smart in anticipating those but just because we had to,” according to Kandel.
“The same innovation we used in dealing with our problems can now be leveraged to deal with the same problems – but elsewhere,” he said.
Rather trying to scale up manufacturing within Israel – which would be impossible – the country needs to carefully focus on what types of expertise to develop and then export its technologies, Kandel said.
“The experience in the local market is very important to be able to come and compete in the world market,” he said.
In doing so in the renewable energy sector, the country’s experts must finds methods that are cheapest in all respects – both economically and environmentally, he explained. While Israel itself does not use much energy in comparison to the rest of the world, most of the energy it is currently consuming is quite polluting, the professor added. But the renewable energy field can continue to act as an “engine of growth” both within Israel and with its relations elsewhere, he continued.
“The local economy is very efficient in using energy, but we use energy that is relatively polluting,” he said. “That means we have additional incentives to look for better energy resources, and this is critical to developing the energy technology. We are good in improvising and innovating things.”