Posts Tagged ‘Negev’

The Israeli Government and the Solar Industry

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Hi Everyone!

This week the Israeli government approved a plan to establish a research and development center for renewable energy technologies. The center will be located in the Negev and the government will invest NIS 70 million over a period of five years. This is a good step toward helping Israel increase its share of renewable energy exports. In fact, the Israeli Negev is becoming a magnetic for companies working on solar and renewable energy technologies. Rotem Industries, Luz II, Zenith Solar are based in the Negev and all three are working on technologies to make solar energy less expensive. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, said: “The future of Israel lies in the Negev”. Well, it looks like the future is here.

This week I read an article in the Jerusalem Report that had experts in the field criticize the incentive program that was introduced in July to buy surplus electricty generated from rooftops using PV (photovoltaic) panels. The people interviewed implied that the government was wasting money on this limited project. I disagree. I think the government should encourage the installation of PV panels as a first step in a solar energy policy. Many countries around the world are giving their citizens incentives to install PV panels. In time, the technology will improve, prices will go down and subsidies will not be needed. It is important to keep the relatively small local manufacturing and installation companies in the game as we wait for the technology to improve. Based upon the current, fast paced technological developments worldwide, I think we will see more compact and efficient PV panels within the next 3-5 years.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the U.S. Congress has gone on vacation without passing the energy bill. This is not good at all. The tax credits for purchasing solar and wind systems expire at the end of December 2008. Many alternative energy projects will be put on hold or cancelled if the tax credits are not extended. Both the Republicans and Democrats have added so many extra items to the bill, that passing the bill has become problematic. However, a group of 10 senators (five Republicans and five Democrats) are hammering out a bipartisan compromise. Let’s hope that the bill passes and that we do not see a repeat of history like the 1980’s when oil prices fell, the tax credits were not renewed and the solar and wind industries went into hibernation. This important piece of legislation will also affect Israeli companies that are making inroads in the alternative energy field in America. Congress will be back in session in September and I hope to report good news by then.

Until next week…..

Shabbat Shalom,
Jacob