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Search for New Energy Sources, Including Coal Deposits in Negev

Israel, in need of new energy sources, is searching the Negev for coal deposits and plans a giant hydro-electric project utilizing the waters of the Mediterranean. Prof. Yitzhak Yaacov, chief scientist of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told newsmen here that traces of coal were found in the Negev in the past.

Drilling will begin soon in the Dimona region to see if sufficient coal exists to make its extraction practicable, Yaacov said. He noted that the government is anxious to use coal as an alternative to high priced oil. One power plant in Israel, located at Hadera, burns coal fuel and others may be built.

Yaacov said that planning will be completed by the middle of next year for a tunnel from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. The latter lies over 1000 feet below sea level and the plunging waters would be used to generate electric power. The government will decide, on the basis of the plans, whether the project is feasible, Yaacov said. He said that Israel hopes that alternatives to oil fuel will provide 30 percent of its energy needs by the late 1980s.