Sunday, May 10, 2009

BusinessWeek covers "Israel's Cleantech Pioneers"

Israel's cleantech industry is the focus of an article in the current issue of BusinessWeek.

A feature article, titled "Israel's Clean Technology Pioneers," includes coverage of companies and venture capital funds including Ormat Technologies, BrightSource Industries, Netafim, and Israel Cleantech Ventures. It also includes a quote from the author of this blog.

Highlights of the article include:
  • Yavne, a hazy industrial corridor in central Israel, seems at first glance an improbable haven for geothermal technology. Its largely barren environs offer no geysers or volcanoes, the essential raw materials for geothermal energy. Yet this small city of 32,000 is home to Ormat Technologies, a $2 billion multinational listed on the New York Stock Exchange that builds geothermal power plants around the world, from Colorado to Kenya.
  • Israel's siege mentality is driving its six-decade quest to coax more from the soil, water, air, and sunlight than do most other nations on earth.... "The world is now realizing it has to deal with things that Israel has had to tackle for 50 years," says Jacques Benkoski, a venture capitalist with Silicon Valley-based U.S. Venture Partners. "Doing more with less is becoming the standard."
  • Google co-founder Sergey Brin and several U.S. politicians have paid visits to Israel recently to learn about water- and energy-conservation technologies. "We can't rely on others for our safety and security," says Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who is looking to import Israeli solar expertise.
  • Israel is a nation of contradictions, socialist in many ways but laissez-faire when it comes to the economy. The national equivalent of a startup, it was founded by people willing to make a go of it in a swath of land dominated by desert.
  • Today Hatzerim and two affiliated kibbutzes remain majority owners of the company that has grown into Netafim, a $500 million high-tech drip-irrigation giant employing 2,600 people in 110 countries.
  • BrightSource's technology seems right out of science fiction. As the van traverses the final mile to a test center in Dimona, what looks like a burning oil rig looms in the distance. Inside the maximum-security complex, passengers present their passports and don protective boots to guard their feet from the scorching sands. A semicircular array of 1,641 mechanized coffee-table-size mirrors pivot to reflect the desert sun's rays onto the boiler atop the rig, which BrightSource calls a "power tower." The company's power towers produce superheated steam for turbines. They "offer the maximum level of efficiency," says Alan E. Salzman, managing partner of Silicon Valley's VantagePoint, BrightSource's largest investor.
  • What if Israel could find the will to harness the power of its drip pipes, power towers, and desert fish farms? "Israel has such a geopolitical vested interest to steer this innovation," says Jonathan Shapira, a corporate attorney in Boston who organizes and blogs about Israeli cleantech. "Innovating around scarcity is increasingly the world's story."
Related Posts:

Israel cleantech venture funds featured in International Herald Tribune

New York Times and Ha'aretz on Israeli cleantech

ZenithSolar featured in BusinessWeek

Cleantech Israel group featured in Globes