August 28, 2012–KVUTZAT YAVNE, Israel (AP) — Israel has developed some of the world’s most advanced solar energy equipment and enjoys a nearly endless supply of sunshine, but when it comes to deploying large-scale solar technology at home, the country remains in the dark ages.
Solar power provides just a tiny percentage of Israel’s energy needs, leaving it far behind colder, cloudier counterparts in Europe. Israeli solar companies, frustrated by government bureaucracy, have taken their expertise abroad.
Fifty years ago, Israel was at the front of the pack, with simple solar water heaters on top of its apartment buildings. They’re still there, but little else has moved forward.
Advanced solar power has come to the tiny community of Kvutzat Yavneh, but its small scale is more an example of what can be done than what has been done.
Nestled in grape vines and pomegranate trees in south-central Israel, the 16 glimmering installations, each of them four meters (14 feet) tall, are an odd sight in this traditional collective farm, which also features a pickling factory and a barn.
The solar panels provide the community with nearly all of its hot water, and the electricity they generate is sold to Israel’s main energy provider, the Israel Electric Corp.
Miriam Schlusselberg, a secretary at the kibbutz, said the 320 residents are “very excited” to get solar power in their backyard. But she also acknowledged that solar energy on a large scale “is not going to develop on its own unless people start investing in it.”
The field in Kvutzat Yavne, built by the Israeli company ZenithSolar Ltd. in 2009, has a maximum capacity of about a quarter of a megawatt of combined thermal and electric power. That’s not even a dent in Israel’s overall capacity of some 12,000 megawatts…Read More>>