Burned by red tape, Israeli solar firm to build in Italy

EnerPoint looks to Italy due to difficulty in getting the gov't to establish solar infrastructure in Israel, says CEO.

EnerPoint Israel CEO Danny Danen (photo credit: Courtesy)
EnerPoint Israel CEO Danny Danen
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Solar firm EnerPoint Israel, called Friendly Energy until its purchase by Italian-based Ener-Point in 2011, has just received permission to install two new solar fields in Teramo, Italy, at a total of 10 megawatts and $47 million, the company announced on Sunday.
Before joining EnerPoint, the Rosh Ha’ayin-based company had been installing solar rooftop panels in Israel, while its Italian parent has already installed 17 megawatts of large solar fields in Italy and a total of 185 throughout Europe, CEO Danny Denan told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
EnerPoint Israel currently finds it much more feasible to be working outside Israel, in part because the government makes it so difficult to establish solar infrastructure here.
For example, he noted a new renewable energy policy that is supposed to include 100 additional megawatts for solar rooftop panels and 500 megawatts for large fields that has been postponed in cabinet meetings both this week and last.
“Although we have so much sunshine, the government is really anti-sun,” Denan said.
“In the ’50s, Ben-Gurion was the one who started thermal solar energy here. He pushed it really hard,” Denan continued. “In Israel, the sun [is prominent], so it is quite ludicrous that we would be the only country in the world that is not promoting the solar industry.
It’s disappointing because the government gave a promise and they’re not standing by their intentions and promise.”
One such promise he was referring to is the goal of reaching five percent renewables by 2014 and 10% by 2020.
While so many leading solar technology companies operating around the world are Israeli-based, “in Israel they are cutting them down,” an action that hinders achieving the energy self-sufficiency that the country so craves, according to Denan.
“I cannot understand this zigzag,” he said. “I think investors from abroad won’t see this so favorably.” So companies like his have turned elsewhere, to places like Italy, Germany, Spain and the US to spread their technologies for the time being, Denan explained.
“The Italian market is the best in the world, and the German one is next,” Denan said. “The government gives a really clear future, exactly opposite of Israel.”
The Italian government recently instituted a program where rooftop installations that are less than 200 kilowatts can be connected to the grid for free, and the country boasts over 100,000 employees in its solar industry, as well as having the biggest solar field in the world at 80 megawatts, according to Denan.
Despite his company’s success in Italy, Denan hopes the Israeli government will get its act together soon and make it easier for firms like his to establish solar infrastructure in their home territory.
“It will affect not only the solar industry, but also many other industries as well. The government has to show leadership,” Denan said.