I had the opportunity to meet up with Ofer Yannay when he was in New York City recently to promote his new book, New Under the Sun – How Israel Will Lead the Worldwide Energy Revolution.
Yannay is the chairman and founder of Nofar Energy. I met him at an art exhibition he hosted with NYC events producer Ornit Dahari Atash last November in Soho, promoting a cause near and dear to his heart: awareness about the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that many IDF soldiers endure after their valiant service.
New Under the Sun invites the reader on an eye-opening journey through the renewable energy revolution – at the forefront of which is solar energy – offering the ultimate solution to humanity’s way forward: Solar energy is a sustainable, available, and affordable energy that is key to a thriving future.
As he writes in his book, “We have used coal, petroleum, and natural gas to support progress, but we cannot continue relying on them forever. We live in a historic time and are revolutionizing energy on a worldwide scale: This is the revolution of renewable energy!”
I had a chance to catch up with Yannay at Gotham Hall, when he was a guest speaker on June 5 at the 2023 The Jerusalem Post Conference, where he discussed his highly acclaimed book and his vision for our renewable energy future.
As a successful entrepreneur, what was the inspiration for writing this book?
The inspiration was that in the last decade, the company that I started managed to really shape the renewable energy market in Israel. It managed to take it from a project that wasn’t originally fit for Israel because it’s such a highly populated country to a dual-use initiative. We made the rooftop segment, we invented a floating solar resource, and we managed to push forward for storage at a very early stage of 2018 when nobody really thought it was practicable at that point; but now everybody is saying that it’s essential.
How were you able to manage to do this and push the revolutionizing sector ahead?
I managed to do this because I focused on Israel, but in December 2020 my company took the next step ahead and I am now having dinner with energy ministers from other countries every two weeks. So my focus is now not just on the Israeli Market. I wanted to essentially have my ideas as my messenger. I wrote my ideas in my book and let it run in the world so people could read my book and get inspired by the idea; which would help Israel take this concept to the next level as well.
This was the main reason and I thought it would be nice to do it in a way that combines my personal stories from the 10 years that have passed since I originally started a very small single-person business, to what has evolved into a billion-dollar company.
How has renewable energy evolved in the 10 years since you started this entrepreneurial journey?
Ten years ago renewable energy was something that was nice to have but not really economically efficient, but today it beats the regular energy market around the world. I actually had an interview in Singapore a few weeks ago with a professor who was inspired by this concept as well.
How is the concept of renewable energy different from the term ‘alternative energy?’
I think it’s about time that we remove the term “alternative energy,” because in 2022, 30% was generated from renewable energy, but three or four years from today it will be more than 50%. What we see now in the world is a race between different energy markets. The Russian invasion of Ukraine showed the world that energy can be a weapon of war.
An Israeli-Arab cooperation to solve the climate crisis would show the world that energy can be a tool for peace and prosperity. As I wrote in the book, in order to keep moving forward, we need one thing, and a lot of it: energy. The bad news is that energy resources, as we know them, are about to be used up and the rising electricity prices that are threatening the world’s economies are direct proof of that.
The good news is that new and exciting energy sources are available to us, waiting to be utilized. Historically, Jews have been a light to the nations. Today our mission is to bring cheap, clean light to the nations. The world’s challenge is to supply power for a growing population while protecting our planet. ■
The writer received his undergraduate degree in business (cum laude) from Yeshiva University and his MBA with double distinction from Long Island University. He is a financial adviser who resides in New York City and is involved in Israel-based and Jewish advocacy organizations