Israel’s vast and dry southern Negev desert may actually help the country go green and just in time for the country’s 2020 10% renewables goal.
At the Eilat-Eilot Forum for Renewable Energy Policy last week, energy experts discussed a recent report, still in draft form, of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, called Cleantech in the Negev as an Engine for Regional Development. The report, composed of several local case studies, was carried out by request of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour (MOITAL) and is part of the OECD review series on Boosting Local Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Creation.
According to the OECD, in the Negev “there is strong potential for the creation of a significant Clean Tech industry cluster, involving a critical mass of firms, human capital, research organizations, support infrastructure and associated formal and informal linkages.”
But even though some breakthrough cleantech installations already exist in the Negev, particularly solar farms, bringing skilled engineers and innovators to the Negev may prove challenging. Besides the Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, the largest city in the Negev, the vast desert is sparsely populated and largely considered a remote and unattractive residence.
The Ben-Gurion University already acts as a test-bed for many new energy innovations, but the goal of the OECD report is to grow the number of test projects conducted in the region.
The vision is that some sort of government-funded central organization would be created to manage the various test projects and that the central organization would have the capacity to handle a wide range of cleantech experieents, from water desalination to solar PV projects.
Above image of Negev Desert via traitlinburke