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Israel eyes green routes

business Updated: Nov 28, 2012 22:32 IST
Anupama Airy

Imagine life without the fear of frequent fuel price hikes or a cut in your cooking gas quota. Far-fetched? But if countries like the US, Israel, Sweden and others can achieve it, why not India?

"Oil free transport" is the buzzword these days: running public and private transport on alternate fuels to reduce dependence on oil. For India, whose annual oil import bill is $150-billion, this makes immense sense.

"Israel is keen to replicate India's model for gas usage in public transportation. We have also recently been engaging with small car manufacturers in India over usage of bio-fuels in cars through suitable technical modifications," said Eugene Kandel, economic advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel is working to free its transportation of oil dependence. "Demand for oil will keep on growing until we find replacement," Uzi Landau, minister of energy and water resources.

Landau said more than 75% of the world's oil consumption goes into transportation. "A shift to alternative energy sources will help sharply bring down the price of oil, and will put pressure on oil lords - producing nations - who are controlling oil prices, to cut prices," he said, adding, "We are working to make Israel's transportation needs completely free from oil and focus on natural gas and renewable, and electric cars."

At present, less than 1% of Israel's energy needs are met through renewables. "Israel wants to make it 5% by 2015 and 10% by 2020," Landau said.

The move towards clean fuels is a global trend. Oil prices having swung up from $40 a few years ago to $150 in 2010 (ruling at $110 at present), oil producers wield power over consumers.

Sweden has announced plans to turn entirely oil-free. The US is working on plans to turn oil-and coal-free by 2050, says energy expert Amory B Lovins.

But for Israel it is more existential than just a question of fuel, because the oil producing nations are mainly its neighbouring Arab nations and its geopolitical tensions.

(The writer's travel, stay were sponsored by the Israeli government)