Israelis look to take solar technology overseas

Yosef Abramowitz launches global solar firm with $10m. deal; Arava Power president named "Person of the Year."

October 28, 2012 11:44
3 minute read.
Solar panels installed on rooftops in Spain by ET

solar panels 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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With the George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” playing in the background, Arava Power Company President Yosef Abramowitz received the “Person of the Year” award at the 2012 Israel Energy and Business Convention on Sunday – where he simultaneously announced the establishment of a global solar firm with a $10 million fundraising deal.

Abramowitz and his staff were the pioneers behind Israel’s first medium-sized solar field, the 4.95-megawatt Ketura Sun launched at Kibbutz Ketura in June 2011. While the company will soon be breaking ground on eight additional solar fields within Israel, it will also now be expanding its solar energy projects to places around the world – primarily in developing countries. DS Apex Mergers & Acquisitions will be leading the $10 million fundraising effort for the still unnamed global firm.

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“Yosef and the founding team of Arava Power are recognized globally as solar pioneers who can identify a solar market early and create tremendous shareholder value,” said Yair Ephrati, CEO of DS Apex M&A.  “We are honored to represent Yosef and his partners and support their global expansion plans.”

Focusing on Africa in the company’s global expansion is critical, as 85 percent of the continent has no power, and most of those places with power are burning polluting and expensive diesel fuel, according to Abramowitz.

“We have a moral and strategic interest to end the burning of oil for electricity production worldwide,” he said. “Our investors will derive great value by our providing clean and inexpensive power to energy-hungry markets, while also improving the lives of tens of millions of people.”

Working with DS Apex will allow the now global company to bring a high-growth business opportunity to its investor base, Abramowitz stressed.

“Yosef Abramowitz pioneered the application of solar energy in Israel and succeeded in finding a way to integrate a Zionist vision with an economically-sound business model,” said Amit Mor, head of the Energy and Business Convention and CEO of the firm Eco Energy, in a statement prior to Abramowitz’s award presentation.

In addition to now receiving the “Person of the Year” award at the convention, Abramowitz was recently named by CNN as one of six leading green pioneers worldwide, and The Jerusalem Post has named him as a top 50 most influential Jew for the past two years.

Yosef Abramowitz, Bill Clinton in Haiti

“Yosef has managed to implement his Zionist vision with a business agenda and for that we are honored to reward him,” Mor said at the ceremony.

Thanking all of his partners, Abramowitz said that he was proud to receive the award as “a representative as the team of the year.”

Despite the seemingly bright future in Israel’s solar industry, Abramowitz warned, however, that in just six months most of the international investors in Israeli solar projects may “run away” due to the obstacles presented by Israeli bureaucracy.

“International investors are beginning to lose faith in Israel,” he said.

There are three things that the government must do at the November 13 meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Promoting Renewable Energy in order to prevent such a crisis, according to Abramowitz. The first of these improvements include raising the renewable energy target for 2020 from 10% to 20% of the electricity market, as the current goal is “too conservative” and does not much that of so many other countries, he explained.

In addition to raising the renewable energy production goals, the government needs to add another 1,000 megawatts for solar energy development, as well as allocate a specific solar quota for the Beduin community, Abramowitz added.

“We believed your promise that democracy means equal opportunity for all,” he said. “But on November 13 we can restore the faith with certainty and transparency.”

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