The Shmooze

Counting Down to ‘Ben-Gurion’s Solar Revolution’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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The homepage of the Arava Power Company’s website shows a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to “Ben-Gurion’s Solar Revolution.”

On June 5, in celebration of World Environment Day, the company will inaugurate Israel’s first commercial solar field at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava Valley. The Arava Power Company is a privately held partnership, owned by Global Sun Partners, Siemens, and KKL-JNF. It is the only public-private partnership in the solar market in Israel.

The solar power field uses photovoltaic (PV) technology, which produces no emissions, makes no noise and uses no water. The backers of the venture hope that increased use of solar energy will reduce the need for new coal plants in Israel. In November of last year, Israel’s Infrastructure Ministry signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement worth NIS 250 million with the company, allowing it to supply power to Israel’s electrical grid.

Inspired by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s statement from back in 1956 that, “the largest and most impressive source of energy in our world, the source of life for every plant and animal, yet a source so little used by mankind today is the sun…solar energy will continue to flow toward us almost indefinitely,” Yosef I. Abramowitz, the company’s President, raised initial seed money of over $3 million from 100 limited partners. Siemens then invested $15 million in the company.

Abramowitz, founder of Jewish Family & Life, made aliyah to Israel and moved to Kibbutz Ketura with his wife, Rabbi Susan Silverman, and their children a number of years ago.

A video invitation to the inauguration on June 5 went out last month. It opens with a photo of Ben-Gurion and his inspiring quotation, but quickly moves on to a group of young people dancing and leaping in the desert — making solar energy look youthful, flexible, hip and energetic.

Watch the Video Invitation to the Inauguration of Israel’s First Solar Field:


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