The Ministry of Energy, in charge of Israel’s natural resources and energy sectors, is pushing hard for a clean Israeli energy sector by 2030. To this end, the Ministry drafted a strategy focused on generating electricity from natural gas and renewable energy, on increasing energy efficiency, and on promoting a total transition to electric transportation. In July 2018, the Ministry led a government decision to shut down the coal-fired power stations in Hadera, and in 2019, roughly 2,000 electric vehicle charging stations will be dispersed across the country at a cost of nIS 30 million.
In 2018, roughly 30% of Israel's electricity generation was coal based, while only 3% was based on renewable energy. In transportation, electric vehicles have been scarce. Following the signing of the global agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, Israel set long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to take part in the global action against climate change. The Ministry of Energy plan is aimed at fulfilling Israel’s role in the agreement and at promoting an efficient, green economy. The plan is based on several strategic goals:
- The penetration of renewables, mostly variable renewables,1 amounting to at least 17% of Israel’s total electricity generation.
- An increase in local and decentralized electricity generation at higher energy efficiency, with an emphasis on generation of renewable energy and cogeneration.2
- The development of a smart, electrical grid comprised of reliable local grids with local control of generation and consumption of electricity.
- The encouragement of a massive penetration of electric vehicles that rely on managed charging and discharging, and as of 2030, the prohibition of sales of new private vehicles that are not powered by electricity.
The way to meeting these goals is full of challenges. Firstly, it is imperative to develop energy storage capabilities, both to stabilize the grid and for energy security purposes, and for energy security purposes. Secondly, managing a reliable, highly distributed electrical grid is difficult. Lastly, Israel’s high population density hinders its ability to establish new energy infrastructure. The development and implementation of novel technologies in the field of energy are critical in order to overcome these obstacles and fulfill the vision of a clean energy sector. Fundamental technological developments required to meet these challenges include fuel cells, the use of hydrogen as an energy source, and increasing the efficiency of solar energy production and energy storage for both mobile and stationary applications.
The Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Energy – the technological arm that serves as a knowledge center for the entire energy sector – is tasked with promoting, developing, and using advanced energy technologies to make this vision a reality. The OCS advances systemic technological issues such as fuel alternatives for transportation, electric vehicles, a smart electrical grid, renewable energy, and nuclear energy, among others. The OCS also funds and supervises R&D operations in the field of energy both in academia and in industry through public proposals in different research stages, from inception to implementation. It supports academic research in the amount of 20 million nIS annually; it offers overseas grants to post-doctoral researchers to study energy disciplines that are lacking in the Israeli academia; it supports pre-seed startups (prototypes and proof of concept), pilot and demonstration projects to encourage an innovative energy and fuel industry in Israel.