Israel harnesses the sun to increase solar power and independence

By Daniel Horowitz--On Monday, July 4, terrorists, armed with machine guns, detonated explosives, destroying a portion of Egypt’s natural gas pipeline responsible for supplying Israel and Jordan.

It was the third such attack on this vital connection between the three countries in the past six months alone.

Israel’s dependence on foreign energy highlights the need for homegrown energy alternatives, and is one reason why the region of Eilat/Eilot’s remarkable strides as a world leader in solar energy production and renewable energy innovation are more important than ever.

UJA Federation Board Chair Elizabeth Wolfe and President & CEO Ted Sokolsky were recently in Eilat and Eilot, UJA Federation’s partner communities through its P2K initiative, and paid a visit to the new solar field at Kibbutz Ketura. The field, launched on June 5th, generates enough energy to power three communities, and is the first of many planned in an effort to have 10 percent of Israel’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020.

Working with its partners in Eilat/Eilot when the concept of renewable energy was little more than a dream, UJA Federation funded the entire strategic plan to make it a reality as part of its overall, strategic goal of strengthening Israel’s frontier.

Three years ago, UJA Federation began sponsoring Eilat’s Annual Renewable Energy Conference which, ultimately, brought together Siemens and the Arava Power Company, the folks behind Kibbutz Ketura. And, with its eyes looking to the future, UJA also invested in the region’s elementary and high schools, adding renewable energy to their respective curriculums, equipping students with the tools they need to eventually take jobs in the field if they so choose.

“The sun cannot be sabotaged,” said Jon Cohen, CEO of Arava Power Company, an Eilot region-based company leading the way in solar energy production, who met with Wolfe and Sokolsky during their visit.  “It is the safest and most available energy source in Israel. Energy security, energy independence and balancing the appropriate combination of energy source are of critical economic importance to Israel’s future.”

And the Ketura Sun solar field is only the beginning in Israel’s quest to become the first major economy to be transformed from carbon-based to solar based. In fact, Arava Power Company has already announced plans to build nearly 50 more solar fields in Israel.

“We should be proud as a Federation that our Israel & Overseas Committee leadership backed the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Eilat and helped make this bold initiative possible,” said Ted Sokolsky, President & CEO, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

“The Eilatis spoke of the changes occurring in their region as being ‘revolutionary,’ said Wolfe. “Locally, not only will the solar energy fields generate crucial income for the kibbutzim whose lands are leased and create new jobs, the entire region is being transformed into a world centre for solar energy, fuelling the transition to renewable energy globally.”


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