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Solar Power is the Path to Israel’s Energy Future

September 2, 2013 9:05 am 4 comments

Solar panels. Photo: Wiki Commons.

JNS.orgJERUSALEMThe perpetuation of a world powered by oil is one of the most anti-Jewish actions imaginable. A world that resists transitioning quickly from oil to renewables is a world that feeds the Iranian nuclear program, promotes radical whabbiism in Saudi Arabia and around the world, accelerates extreme climate change, pollutes our air, distorts world policy against Israel, and sends American and other troops off to bloody and expensive wars in Iraq and elsewhere.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has challenged us all to imagine a world without oil and has set up within his office a special bureau investing in oil substitute strategies.

Theodor Herzl imagined the future state of the Jews running on renewables, through an ambitious hydroelectric program linking the Mediterranean and Dead seas. David Ben Gurion, recognizing the power of the sun, envisioned that all hot water and electricity in Israel were going to be produced by solar power.

With 60 percent of the country’s land consisting of desert, Israel could be the first major economy to be powered by the sun. Research funds should be invested into battery storage technologies to accelerate the adoption of grid-scale storage of green power for nighttime use.

Thomas Friedman writes convincingly that the new natural gas finds in the United States should be viewed as a transitional phase in our economy, bridging the era of coal and oil to that of solar and other renewables. This is also true for Israel, an energy island. Israel’s offshore natural gas finds, if used properly, can provide the windfall necessary to build a national renewable energy infrastructure.

Let’s face it: There is only one reason to attempt to justify drilling on Israel’s historic lands, pumping chemicals into the ground above a water aquifer, heating it up to 350 degrees Celsius for three years (at a huge energy expense) and pumping dirty shale oil out. That reason is greed, pure and simple.

Advocates of fracking will try to mask their greed with arguments for energy independence. But Israel is blessed with enough clean natural resources that we don’t need oil. Energy independence is possible and supremely preferable without fracking. And with nearly every automaker coming out with electric vehicles, even our transportation can be driven by renewables.

For Israel to take part in perpetuating the world’s oil-based economy is a betrayal of our values and ultimately threatens our existence as a country and of the world. Our founding fathers understood that God has granted us a land blessed with clean natural resources that can promote energy independence while providing a model to the rest of the world to kick their addiction to oil.

As we approach the High Holidays, we need to realize that fracking in Israel is a sin fueled by greed. The sun could power the country by day, and the natural gas finds by night. Green energy storage technologies could soon power the country at night as well.

The “start-up nation” should not succumb to the 20th century oil fantasies of a handful of Jewish investors from abroad. Through clear thinking, innovation, moral and political will and a clear vision while standing up to greed, green-tech investors and Israel should unite in rejecting fracking, embracing solar and become, finally, a renewable light unto the nations.

Yosef I. Abramowitz, named by CNN as one of the world’s leading Green Pioneers, promotes solar energy in Israel and Africa and has, along with his wife Rabbi Susan Silverman, accepted Naomi Tsur’s invitation to run for Jerusalem City Council on a green, inclusive list. He can be followed on Twitter @kaptainsunshine.

4 Comments

  • Once the interconnector is built and connected Europe any energy can pass through it and in the it would included renewable via solar farms. One day there will be a global price on carbon so between selling the energy and the carbon credits Israel will make billions. And just as Israel want to connect the railway bypassing the Suez to Jordan which will increase the capacity of the exports from another port. Jordan can be connected to the interconnector and supply energy via solar power to Europe. Israel wants stability in Jordan and requires economic development and revenue. Jordan cannot rely on tourism and handouts from the Gulf states forever. It makes Israel very important and these are all strategic national security projects one can see with a coalition government which little agree on these projects have been approved and are moving forward quickly.

  • This is complete nonsense. Just reading the title gave me that queasy feeling in my stomach which so often accompanies article or lecture by self-promoting so called experts. Israel is NOT employing hydraulic fracturing or fracking as you reference it. In situ heating is nothing like fracking and Israel is not the United States. Stick to what you know Mr. Abramowitz, obviously neither fracking nor electric vehicles.

    In full disclosure, I have no interest in either effort.

  • “Thomas Friedman writes convincingly that …” There are few who are so heeded, and so well paid, despite being proven so consistently wrong. But given how much green fantasy, backed with so little science, is provided here, I suspect Abramowitz believes Friedman convinces because he already believes.

    The fact is that the energy alternatives Abramowitz promotes – particularly solar and wind – have notoriously low energy density, and so can never provide baseline power except at enormous, subsidized cost. And such schemes, by depriving the world’s poorest of cheap energy needed for development, dooms them to remain poor.

    I also find it curious that someone with such “green” credentials would promote wind despite the associated noise pollution and bird kills, or the massive land grabs that would be required for solar farms. Some environmentalists are themselves attempting to block a solar installation in California’s Death Valley – for its size and its “environmental impact”.

    Natural gas is not a “transition” to an era of renewables, but a core energy source (along with oil and nuclear, which the author doesn’t mention) into the foreseeable future. And any fossil fuels that are exploited within free countries – Israel included – is fuel we aren’t dependent on from unfree countries.

  • Yosef, I salute your concern about the environment and about terrorism.

    There is only one sane way to approach the issue of heating out of Israel’s shale oil (to reiterate the well-known point, this is not fracking).

    That one sane approach is…science.

    Let the science lead where it may. At the end of the day, if the environment will not be damaged by extracting oil from Israel’s shale, then it should be extracted.

    Far from helping terrorist, this hurts them. A lot. It means that Israel can supply 1 million barrels of oil per day to each of 5 countries, 500,000 bpd to 5 more, and 250,000 bpd to 5 more, all for the next 30 years.

    These 15 countries it chooses to favor will need to vote with Israel at the UN, and stop pandering to anti-Israel interests…for the next 30 years…or Israel can immediately change which countries it favors.

    This will also lower the price of oil, resulting in less money for terrorist-sponsoring/supporting nations.

    Solar power does not provide fuel for cars, planes, ships, or for making of plastics and pharmaceuticals. All attempts at making this from algae at scale have failed totally. Attempts at supplanting merely 1/10th of our need with biofuels resulted in a major agricultural commodity price spike in 2008 that hurt billions of people.

    If only things were as black and white and as simple as you seem to believe. Shale oil can be a force for good. Full disclosure: I have no economic interest in any of this.

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