07/10/2012 03:51
Arava Power president hopes solar energy work makes Israel “renewable light unto the nations.”

CNN has named Yosef Abramowitz, president and cofounder of the firm responsible for Israel’s first solar field, as one of six global “Green Pioneers.”

A program about the six pioneers will appear on CNN for the first time on Friday, highlighting the significant environmental achievements of “men and women with big ideas to change the world.”

The show is part of an overall CNN “Going Green” series being broadcast throughout 2012.

Abramowitz, 48, made aliya with his wife and five children from Massachusetts in 2006, and soon after founded Arava Power Company at Kibbutz Ketura with partners Ed Hofland from the kibbutz and David Rosenblatt from New Jersey.

Now dubbed “Captain Sunshine” by his colleagues, Abramowitz had spent time volunteering on Kibbutz Ketura 30 years ago, and last summer he was able to inaugurate a 4.95-megawatt, medium-sized photovoltaic field on that very same land.

Today, Arava Power is developing a large-sized, 40- megawatt solar field directly across Road 90 from the first field, whose power supply will be equivalent to one-third of the electricity needs of the city of Eilat, according to the company.

Arava Power is also in the process of developing hundreds of megawatts of projects in the Arava and Negev deserts, and this spring, the firm closed on eight medium-sized projects worth NIS 800 million.

In addition to advocating solar development rights for the Negev’s Beduin population, Abramowitz has been instrumental in bringing solar capabilities to other underserved communities around the world. In Haiti – which was ravaged by the 2010 earthquake – Abramowitz is a partner in a forum led by former US president Bill Clinton to help develop a solar energy industry for the island, the company said.

Meanwhile, only last week, Abramowitz and his family traveled to Rwanda to volunteer in the Aghozo-Shalom Youth Village, where among other activities, he taught young people there about the potential of employing solar energy.

“It is an honor to represent Israel as a Green Pioneer,” Abramowitz said. “The choice of an Israeli for a program focused on environmental issues is proof that [the] world looks to us as an example for environmental technology and innovation. With the help of the government of Israel and its support for solar energy, we will continue to be a renewable light unto the nations.”

In a 5-minute clip previewing Abramowitz’s participation in the program, the anchor describes his target as “to bring solar power to Israel on a commercial scale.” During the same preview, Abramowitz himself says that “this land was made for solar power” and that solar work performed there can “become a catalyst to work with other countries.”

In addition to Abramowitz, another of the pioneers is Ikal Angelei from Friends of Lake Turkana in Kenya, who was among the winners of this year’s San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Prize.

She also receives funding from American Jewish World Service for her work combating the construction of a huge dam in southern Ethiopia.

Three of the other pioneers include David Stubbs, head of sustainability for the London 2012 Olympics; Princess Sayyida Tania Al Said, president of the Environment Society of Oman; and Erin Schrode, founder of United States-based organization Turning Green.

CNN will first air the “Green Pioneers” program on Friday, July 13 at 6:30 p.m. local time, followed by additional broadcasts on Saturday, July 14 (4:00 p.m., 11:30 p.m.), Sunday, July 15 (12:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m.), Monday, July 16 (6:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.), Tuesday, July 17 (12:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) and Wednesday, July 18 (7:30 a.m.).