The Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources has met with a U.S. delegation and Diego Goldin, Executive Director of NGV Global to guide the country toward the integration of compressed natural gas (CNG) in the energy sector, especially as it applies to public transportation.
The US DOE delegation was headed by Dr. Marcy Rood, from Argonne National Laboratory, and integrated by Dr. Jeffrey Seisler (Clean Fuels Consultants), Dr. Chris LaFleur (Sandia National Laboratories) and Livio Gambone (CSA). Much information was shared about the development of CNG as a fuel in other countries, safe practices associated with CNG and the regulation needed for natural gas and its use in buses.
The event was set up by Israel’s Chief Scientist and the Israel Natural Gas Authority in the Ministry of National Infrastructure. Participants included representatives from the ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office Alternative Fuels Administration, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Environmental Protection hazardous substances, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, the Home Front Command, the Israel Police, the Standards Institution of Israel, holders of licenses to distribute natural gas, and fuel companies.
Israel has its own gas fields following discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs, and is setting about a considered introduction of natural gas for public transportation, choosing to follow the example of many countries around the world where CNG and LNG have been adopted for cleaner operating bus fleets. It commissioned a report from the Pareto group and is receiving input from the Tzemach Committee, which formulated government policy on the development of the natural gas sector and natural gas exports. The Alternative Fuels Administration also prepared their own analysis of the penetration of natural gas-powered vehicles in Israel.
According to Globes Israel Business News (link here), the Tzemach Committee predicted that one third of private vehicles and two thirds of public vehicles would be converted to natural gas by 2040, and that consumption of natural gas in transportation would reach 40 BCM. The Alternative Fuels Administration argued in its own study that assimilation of gas-powered vehicles could begin as early as 2014-2015, and 50% penetration could be achieved within a decade. Right now, there are none.
The Ministry of National Infrastructure explained the zero start is in part due to delay in arranging processes for granting permits for installing consumer gas facilities, particularly refueling stations. Outside of government there is suggestion that delay is due to the lack of a policy on the taxes to be levied on gas-powered vehicles, causing potential natural gas vehicle (NGV) investors to hesitate before spending.
Almost all the energy experts consulted agree that Israel must stimulate domestic demand for its gas in the face of limited export opportunity.
High officials of the Israeli Government shared with the delegation and NGV Global the particularities in the implementation of the CNG program in their country. Mr. Alexander Varshavsky (Director General of the National Gas Authority) Eng. Yasha Jurborsky (Chief Engineer, NGA) and Dr. Bracha Halaf (Chief Scientist and Senior Manager oil replacements). The new Director General of the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures Mr. Shaul Meridor, highlighted the importance that his government is assigning to the use of the domestic resources of Natural Gas, in order to provide energy security and clean, cheap fuel for transportation.
The first project under way is the use of CNG in a bus fleet in Haifa.