Just in time for Earth Day, The New York Times published an article on Arava’s inspiring solar activity in Israel’s Negev Desert. The article covers an interview with Yosef Abramowitz, an American born social activist and entrepreneur, who founded the Arava Power Company, today the leading commercial developer of solar power in Israel.
In the Ketura Kibbutz, the sun shines for up 14 hours in the summer, and with an average of only 15 cloudy days a year, the area has conditions that are perfect for solar power generation. According to the article, Abramowitz, known in the kibbutz as “Captain Sunshine”, has together with his partners (including Siemens, which invested $15 million in Arava) created an impressive solar energy project, in over 20 acres of land now housing 18,600 solar panels. Arava Power expects to grow into a $2 billion enterprise.
The Ketura 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.”
Arava Power has also teamed up with Bedouins in the Negev Desert: the tribes will lease their lands to Arava Power for solar installations, and the company will provide jobs for the clans. Financing for the Bedouin fields is coming from the United States government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation.