Israel’s renewable energy revolution will build bridges, says Energix CEO
Creating financial prosperity through renewable energy is key to peace in the Middle East, says Energix’s Asa LevingerShow transcript
Renewable energy is a growing industry in Israel, and is also important from a strategic viewpoint. Producing clean energy would liberate the country from its dependence on imported oil and natural gas. But Israel doesn’t want to be an energy island, says Asa Levinger, CEO of Energix Renewable Energies. Instead, Israel could use its wind and solar energy sources to help build a bridge to peace.
The New Economy: Renewable energy is a growing industry in Israel, and is important also from a strategic viewpoint. Being able to produce energy from clean sources would liberate the country from its political and financial dependence on its neighbours’ oil and natural gas supplies. With me to discuss how the sector is developing is Asa Levinger.
Well Asa, if you could start by talking me through Israel’s energy market. How is it structured, exactly?
Asa Levinger: Renewable energy is one of the most fascinating topics in the last decade. It was just recently announced that 50 percent of the new power plants that were installed all over the world in 2014 use renewable energy sources. It means that today the common way to produce new electricity is from renewable energy sources. And for me, that is an amazing fact.
The recent development in technology allows us to reduce the price of renewable energy installation dramatically, and get us closer into the point of grid parity.
What is grid parity? Grid parity is the point in which renewable energy installation will have equal or lower cost than the cost to produce electricity from conventional power plants.
Therefore, I think for renewable energy it’s only the beginning. And it’s tremendous impact on our lives has yet to come.
In Israel, we were kind of late bloomers. We joined the market six years ago. Energix had the privilege to grow with the market: we went step by step.
Energix was the first to connect a medium-sized rooftop to the grid, and was the first to connect our diamond project, a large ground-mounted system, to the grid. So I truly believe that with our Mediterranean sun, and our great wind conditions, the future of investment in renewable energy is very promising.
The New Economy: An in terms of challenges, what do renewables pose for Israel?
Asa Levinger: I see two main challenges for renewables. The first one is external, and it is the competition with conventional power plants.
It is true that in the beginning, the cost to produce renewable energy was relatively high. So the people that were against renewables had a very good argument, saying it’s just too expensive. But today, when we are approaching grid parity – and in Israel, we have a very good sun – together with the support we are getting from the government, I think this challenge is about to be terminated.
Regarding the internal challenges, we have the competition with other renewable energy companies. The market of renewables is controlled by giant utilities, so in order to succeed, you need to differentiate yourself from the others.
Energix understood from the beginning that in order to succeed, you must have strong financial abilities. So we in Energix adopted a very unique strategy. We call it the ‘fast rider on the elephant’s trail’ strategy. Meaning, you have to be daring, decisive, quick yet calculated. And the most important: always on track.
I think adopting this strategy will allow us to mitigate the challenge.
The New Economy: And politically speaking, what do renewables mean for Israel?
Asa Levinger: Israel is an electricity island. So one may think that for us, renewables will increase the diversity of electricity sources, and will strengthen our independence. But we see it differently.
We see it as an opportunity to cooperate with our neighbours. The Middle East is eager for more and more electricity, and for us that’s an opportunity.
Every person alive should get electricity: it’s a commodity. And for us, bringing that commodity to the people, we might create financial prosperity. And for us, that’s a fundamental thing in order to create a bridge to peace.
The New Economy: What’s the role of stakeholders in your renewable energy projects?
Asa Levinger: Stakeholders are playing a crucial role in every renewable energy project. The first stakeholder is the local community. In each renewable energy project, you are literally entering into the backyard of the community. So it’s very important to be very attentive to the needs of the local community.
Energix’s goal is that every local coming back from work will look at the wind turbine on their land, and directly associate it with the contribution and benefits that the community is getting out of it.
Second, some very key players are the environmental authorities. They are our colleagues, and we are sharing the same goal: protecting the environment.
Actually, we see it as a whole package. We call it the triple-win package, a win-win-win situation for the local community, the environment, and the investor. Together, promoting the same thing: the success of the project.
The New Economy: And finally, how do you see renewable energies developing in the coming years in Israel?
Asa Levinger: In the 19th century, we had the industrial revolution. In the 20th century, we had the computer revolution. I truly believe that we are now in the beginning of the green revolution.
We see electric cars. We see green buildings. We see electrical storage. We see other green applications. Together with the huge support renewables and all other green things are getting from the government, we will have massive investment in renewables in the future.
Energix is thrilled to be a part of this revolution, because we truly believe there is no substitute for renewable energy. And it is the right and the only answer for a much better future.