Technion forum: Israel can be global biodiesel leader

IC Green CEO: Israel Corp's vision is to become one of the top 12 global corporations in renewable energy.

Israel can become a global leader in the development of crops for biodiesel production, concludes the 7th Energy Forum Samuel Neaman Institute for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The forum aims to position Israeli renewable energy research and industry on the world map.

The participants at the forum believe that Israel has the know-how to help develop the global biodiesel industry, since the idea is to grow crops for biodiesel and bio-ethanol production in arid lands, such as the Middle East, in order not to use fertile soil currently used to raise food crops for the production of energy crops. The forum also concludes that industry and academe should collaborate on crop development and allocate land for field trials, which researchers currently lack.

IC Green CEO Yom Tov Semia said, "Israel Corp's vision is to become one of the top 12 global corporations in renewable energy, trade 5-6% of biofuel, and own at least 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy-driven power stations." IC Green Ltd. is a subsidiary of Israel Corp. (TASE: ILCO).

Figures presented at the forum indicate that the US government invested $7.3 billion in renewable energy in 2006, six times the amount spent in 2005. Most of the investment was in biodiesel. The biofuel market is projected to reach $180 billion by 2020, which is why major companies are in a race to get their hands on land and intellectual property on seeds, seaweed, and technologies.

Forum participants expressed concern that global energy demand will double within five years, which is especially worrying given diminishing oil reserves and global warming. Figures indicate that the world consumes seven billions tons of oil annually, and that the quantity will only grow.

Forum participants warned that land used for food production is going over to the raising of crops for biofuel, and that the amount of farmland will likely shrink in the future. The participants also noted that the world understands that it is not possible to take food from people and put it into cars' gas tanks.

An example is Indonesia, where forests are being felled and wetlands dried for the production of crops for biofuel. The result is an increase in pollution, because the cleared land emits carbon dioxide, whereas the natural vegetation absorbs it. Indonesia is reportedly responsible for 8% of global pollution.

Terra Venture Partners LP managing partner Dr. Harold Weiner said that Israel should have invested in cleantech 20 years ago. He said that Israel should focus on technologies for using enzymes for breaking down cellulose and on seaweed, for which he predicts a rosy future. He noted that plants specialize in storing solar energy, so efforts should be made in turning them into energy producers.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on November 5, 2007

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2007

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