An Israeli solar technology company, Zenith Solar, is about to take a kibbutz (an intentional community) and produce solar energy to satisfy all the kibbutz’s electricity. Kibbutz Yavne is in the south of Israel and enjoys long seasons of sunshine. It is a community of about 250 families.
Zenith Solar is introducing technology that can can transform 75 percent of the sunlight it absorbs into electricity and hot water at a cost of 8.6 cents per kilowatt hour. In comparison, most solar panels that generate electricity from sunlight do so with less than 15% efficiency, and cost more than double.
Most significant, the company claims that in peak conditions, their technology will provide energy that is competative to costs of traditional fossil fuels. In fact, given the additional costs that we know are necessary for environmental and health damage, this makes Zenith Solar technology the cheaper option and with no negative impact on the environment.
The commercial pilot stands on a half-acre plot at the edge of the kibbutz and will serve as a model for further solar farms that will hopefully be adapted for bigger urban concentrations as well as cheap small units for private homeowners.
Here is a short video on the project.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).