DOE, Israel Ministry Update Cooperation Pact

The United States – Israel Energy Cooperation Act, an international collaboration aimed at creating a renewable energy storage initiative to reduce the world's oil dependence, was launched Feb. 18 at the Eilat-Eilot International Renewable Energy Conference in Eilat, Israel.

The Cooperation Act, which will fund eligible joint ventures between U.S. and Israeli businesses, has already allocated $2 million for 2009 ($1 million from each country), with a significant increase expected in future years.

"Israel is well-known in the world as a technology innovator. The concentration of scientific innovation in the country is impressive," said Jonathan Shrier, assistant secretary, Office of Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy. "This cooperation between the United States and Israel is unique in that we have a partner who brings a lot to the table."

Two projects, run by Seambiotic and Better Place, have already received approval. Seambiotic is the first company in the world utilizing flue gas from coal burning power stations for algae cultivation. The company aims to grow and process marine microalgae using an ecologically-based environmental system to reduce air pollution and global warming. Better Place is a venture-backed company aiming to reduce global dependency on oil through the creation of an electric car network with a swappable battery.

The Department of Energy and the Ministry of National Infrastructures have agreed that two important elements of their collaboration are a researcher exchange and a conference circuit. Two conferences in the United States and two in Israel will take place annually. The annual conference in Sde Boker, Israel will focus on the technological advancements in the Renewable Energy industry while the annual Eilat-Eilot conference will serve as a platform for industry-ready technologies to exhibit and market their offerings. In addition, researchers from Israel will spend significant time working in the U.S. market, while researchers from the U.S. will do the same in Israel.

Other announcements made at the conference include the Timna Renewable Energy Park, the centerpiece of the Eilat-Eilot region's efforts to turn Southern Israel into the "Silicon Valley" of renewable energy, and the AORA Solar Thermal Module in Kibbutz Samar, the world's first commercial hybrid solar gas-turbine power plant.

"The developments presented at the Eilat-Eilot Conference demonstrate the region's leadership in the renewable energy industry," said Shlomo Wald, chief scientist, Ministry of National Infrastructures. "We are taking action to find sustainable solutions to Israel’s and the world's energy crisis, and we hope others see Israel as a major contributor."

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