Photo: Itamar Grinberg

A few days ago, our friends at the Arava Power Company put up Israel's first ever solar power field at Kibbutz Ketura. Mazel Tov to them – check out this blog post by Arielle Sperling, an employee at APC

When looking out across the desert, some people marvel over expanses of flat land that stretch between magnificent mountains. Others take in the clear blue sky. Some people, however, see potential. David Rosenblatt of New Jersey, Ed Hofland of Kibbutz Ketura and Yosef Abramowitz founded the Arava Power Company in 2006 with the intention of supplying Israel with 10% of her energy needs through solar power. They envisioned fields of photovoltaic panels that would transform the desert into a source of clean, green energy for Israel. As a country that is 60% desert and with some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, Israel is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this natural, free, and renewable resource. Solar energy harnessed by the Arava Power Company is already helping to fulfill 350’s goal of reducing carbon emissions.

On Sunday, June 5th, APC’s founders transformed their dream into a reality with the launch of Ketura Sun, the first commercial solar field in Israel. 18,500 solar panels are now at work harnessing the sun’s rays; over the next years the field will create approximately five megawatts of electricity – enough to power three neighboring kibbutz communities. Ketura Sun is also expected to offset approximately 125,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That is the equivalent of planting approximately 180,000 trees! The inauguration of the field was on UN World Environment Day – a global day devoted to reducing carbon emissions and restoring our earth to a healthier state. Before the inauguration ceremony, chairs for the five hundred guests were arranged so that their cushions spelled out an enormous “SOS” (for “Save Our Solar!”). This was a message to the Israeli government to lift solar caps and to create a more supportive environment for the blossoming solar industry in Israel.

Ketura Sun was built in Israel’s Arava Valley at Kibbutz Ketura, a desert kibbutz community of environmentally conscious, artistically inclined, Jewish Zionists.  As part of the company’s social responsibility program Arava Power is embracing the Jewish law of pe’ah, which requires the four corners of any field to be left untouched by harvesters and instead saved for the poor to glean. The company has dedicated the four corners of Ketura Sun to four non-profit organizations that will benefit from the funds earned over the next twenty years. The four organizations are Jewish Heart For Africa, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, Bustan, and the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center.

Arava Power Company is committed to the goal of 350 – by bringing solar energy to a region of the world blessed with a seemingly endless supply of this clean, renewable resource. APC is reducing carbon emissions by lessening dependence on coal and oil, and creating a far more sustainable source of electricity that will fuel generations to come. Arava Power believes that Israel has the potential to transform itself into an entirely renewable energy based economy.

Perhaps 350’s strongest message is that it is our responsibility to protect the world for generations to come. Arava Power Company just announced their plans for a pipeline of 40 signed contracts to build solar fields around the country, representing well over 400 MW of clean, renewable energy. Ultimately, Arava Power Company would love to see Israel become the first carbon-free country – a truly green oasis in the middle of the Middle East. As pioneers of the Israeli solar industry, Arava Power’s aspirations are perfectly aligned with 350’s campaign to fight climate change.

Arava Power Company has no intentions of slowing down any time soon. So, as we like to say… shine on!

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