Switch to Forum Live View Israeli Desert Yields a Harvest of Energy
|1 year ago :: Apr 22, 2012 - 4:22PM #1|
I just thought this was interesting and it should be non-controversial. After all it is just part of the whole "making the desert bloom" thing. Which should be thought of as a positive thing, even if there are those who pretend it is not.
Israeli Desert Yields a Harvest of Energy
KETURA, Israel — Arriving at this bone-dry kibbutz in the Arava Desert late one afternoon in August 2006, Yosef Abramowitz, a social activist, Jewish educator and multimedia entrepreneur from Boston, opened the door of his van and was hit by a wall of heat.
“The sun was setting, but it was still burning,” he said. “I remember the sensation.”
Later, unable to sleep, he rose about 5 a.m. and stepped outside as the sun was coming up over the mountains of Jordan. “It was so hot already,” he recalled. “I said to myself, ‘This whole place must work on solar power.’ ”
Then he found out that was not true.
So Mr. Abramowitz, who had spent six months at Ketura in the early 1980s as part of a Young Judaea program, quickly abandoned his plans to spend a quiet family sabbatical with his wife and children in southern Israel. Instead, he went into partnership with Ed Hofland, a businessman from the kibbutz, and David Rosenblatt, an investor and strategist from New Jersey, to found the Arava Power Company, now the leading commercial developer of solar power in Israel.
. . .
Arava Power’s pioneering work has not gone unnoticed. Other communal farms and communities in the arid reaches of southern Israel are rapidly turning to renewable energy: solar energy is a harvest that does not require irrigation.
Last month, Israel’s Public Utility Authority issued licenses for nine larger solar fields, including a 150-acre site at Ketura that will eventually meet one-third of the peak daytime energy needs in the nearby city of Eilat.
Ketura’s new solar field will be built across the road from the kibbutz in a rift valley between two mountain ranges. The near-constant breeze from the north will naturally cool the backs of the panels, which will face south. With up to 14 hours of sunlight in the summer, an average of only 15 cloudy days a year and access to the national electricity grid nearby, the area has conditions that are perfect for producing solar energy, Mr. Abramowitz said.
“God could not have invented a better place to do solar power,” he said during a recent tour.
. . .
The kibbutz is also known for environmental innovation. It operates a high-tech algae farm and is home to the Arava Institute, where Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Americans and others study the environment. The kibbutz’s appreciation for education has resulted in what its secretary general, Sara Cohen, calls “knowledge-based ventures.”
In one such effort, Dr. Solowey domesticates rare plants, including species with medicinal properties, and works on finding new crops for arid and saline lands.
As yet, the prospect of solar power riches has not gone to the heads of the practical farmers who live in Ketura.
“It means having our future accounted for, when we cannot work in the date fields anymore,” Ms. Cohen said. “And our children’s education will be secured.”
Still, she added, “We are not eating filet mignon in the kibbutz dining room yet.”