This story has some very nice tentacles into areas that fall well within our spectrum. Those include an international component, historic story line and, most importantly, the satisfying ending of seeing a very large investment in clean energy (40,000 homes is significant in any part of the world).
Our goal is to file reports from every part of the world. What else is going on in the Middle East on the business side of green? If you have reports, please send them to us to post and share.
"Some of the earliest pioneers of solar energy started in Israel 30 years ago with the company Luz. Luz went on to become Luz II, then BrightSource, which is now a US-based solar power company about to flip the switch on a massive 377-megawatt solar thermal farm in the California desert.
And at the start of 2014, the sun and stars will align and a dream will be coming true for Israeli solar pioneers and visionaries like BrightSource Israel CEO Israel Kroizer.
BrightSource will break ground on one of the world’s largest solar thermal energy plants, in Israel. The Ashalim plant is expected to produce 121 megawatts of solar energy in the Negev Desert by 2016, providing enough "green" energy to fuel 40,000 Israeli homes.
After many bureaucratic hurdles, BrightSource —— which uses mirrors called heliostats to focus the sun’s rays on a tower to create steam to drive turbines —— is finally returning "home" and is fulfilling a dream to help make Israel energy secure, says Kroizer.
He was with BrightSource from its genesis and says that the new solar plant, developed by the Megalim consortium of BrightSource and France’s Alstom SA, is more than a business deal — it’s personal. BrightSource, he notes, employs about 400 people, 300 of whom are engineers and development staff working mainly in Jerusalem, where its international R&D happens.
Sunning the engineers close to home
"The staff is very happy to be working in the country, in Israel. It’s a real help to have a big project next door to us," he tells ISRAEL21c. "We will learn a lot from it, instead of flying 10,000 miles to California every time we want to learn something."
The $1.1 billion solar thermal energy plant being developed in Israel is the country’s first large-scale solar energy field, and one of the biggest of its kind in the world. It will heighten Israel’s prominence on the map of clean-tech entrepreneurship and green energy production.
Kroizer says: "The government gave us a very good structure and we appreciate it very much. The way we will run this project is as though it will be the crown jewel of all our projects. Yes, even over our project in California." -
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