Peace is solar-powered, says Israeli green energy guru

By Nathan Jeffay, December 6, 2013
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INTERVIEW YOSEF AMBRAMOWITZ

Israel’s foremost green energy pioneer is visiting London next week, where he will propose, among other innovations, a “renewable energy” solution to the Iranian crisis.

“Nuclear power is the power of war and solar power is the power of peace,” said Yosef Abramowitz, who has set up massive solar fields in Israel’s Negev desert.

“If the Iranian government says it is concerned about having electricity for its people, no one so far has either called its bluff or helped it towards cheap energy that is greener.”

Mr Abramowitz will argue at a meeting in Parliament that the West should try to end the nuclear crisis with Iran by offering to help it develop large-scale green energy capabilities.

He acknowledged that his idea is unorthodox, but said he thinks there is a “diplomatic opening” for it.

Mr Abramowitz was invited to the UK by Israel’s London ambassador Daniel Taub, and will meet David King, Foreign Secretary William Hague’s new special representative on climate change. He will also address a round-table breakfast organised by the Anglo-Israel Association.

Mr Abramowitz considers London the “epicentre” for green innovation, and wants to propose a “strategic alliance” between the UK and Israel to take sustainable energy infrastructure to poor countries, simultaneously boosting economies and helping the environment.

In this plan, British and Israeli companies would co-operate on green energy projects, with state support.

American-born Mr Abramowitz set up the first large-scale solar field in Israel in 2010.

Since 2010, he has taken his business global. His company, Energiya Global Capital, is developing solar projects in countries including South Africa, Romania, Cyprus and the Galapagos Islands.

When it becomes active this summer, his company operation in Rwanda will provide seven per cent of the country’s power.

He said that, when he addresses the UK Jewish community, he will propose a change in investment patterns. “I want to challenge the community to start thinking about ‘impact investment’ in the state of Israel,” he explained, adding that he is not talking about “something speculative or risky” but rather about projects that will make money while doing good in social and/or environmental spheres.

He will suggest that ideal investments should, like his power projects in poor African countries, have a “triple bottom line” — they should make money as businesses, have a positive impact and create goodwill towards Israel.

Last updated: 11:45pm, December 6 2013