Israel hampered in pursuit of better energy management – expert

Overregulation and a shortage of engineers thwart progress to smart-grid electricity era, chairman of electircal engineering group says

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An Israel Electric Corporation power plant situated on the Mediterranean coast in Hadera, Israel. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
An Israel Electric Corporation power plant situated on the Mediterranean coast in Hadera, Israel. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

As the world’s electricity production moves toward renewable energy sources and private electricity producers, the need for smart electric grids — in which all energy consumption points are managed and monitored online through use of smart meters and appliances — becomes more acute to connect the various sources of energy into one seamlessly functional and efficient unit.

“We need to know how to manage our energy better. The world wastes 40 percent of the energy that is produced today,” Emil Koifman, chairman of the Society of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Israel (SEEEI), said in a phone interview.

Smart grids, which are the way forward for electricity production and distribution, will enable more control over distribution and less waste, he said.

Smart grids sit at the junction of two tech areas Israel specializes in – networking and big data – and several startups have already deployed systems that help regulate electricity use.

But for Israel to keep up with the world on this development, Koifman said, it needs to ease regulation that is strangling the electricity industry and train more engineers who will be able to take on the challenges of a new era of electricity production, he said.

“Regulation is holding back progress and we must see how this can be eased,” he said. “Government bodies in Israel are not adapting to the new smart world. In addition, a new generation of engineers needs to be created” to enable the integration of all the various smart parts that make up a smart grid.

Israel’s high-tech industry will lack more than 10,000 engineers and programmers in the coming decade if the government doesn’t take immediate action to prepare students to meet the shortfall, the Ministry of Economy and Industry’s chief scientist warned in a report in June. The shortage in the number of engineers is the result of a decline in the share of Israelis graduating in the sciences, the report said.

The SEEEI will hold its 17th international convention on November 8–11, 2016, in Eilat, and this year the convention will focus on the “Smart World – A new era of energy.”

Among the attendees at the conference will be government officials, entrepreneurs and experts from Israel and abroad who will address issues including cybersecurity, transportation, renewable energy, smart grid and energy management.


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