August 13, 2007
Israeli Scientist makes Solar Breakthrough

An Israeli scientist has developed a methodology that may make solar power viable and competitive. According to Prof. David Feiman , director of the National Center for Solar Energy near Sde Boker, Israel, “After 30 years of research on solar energy, my life’s work of experiments in how to produce electricity from the sun, I can say this year that I know how to manufacture solar energy that will compete with conventional energy.”

Feiman’s technique uses an inexpensive parabola-shaped glass plate to focus (and concentrate) energy, and its production per unit area is 1,500 times higher than typical solar collectors today.

The National Center for Solar Energy is now collaborating with an Israeli start-up company, Zenith Solar, to create a home system of solar cells based on this technology within about a year. And the Center has licensed its technology to Sollel, another Israeli company, which has signed a contract with the U.S. company Pacific Gas & Electric to build the largest solar power station in the world, in the Mojave desert in California, which will have about 7,000 such panels. It is due to go into service in about four years, providing 553 megawatts of electricity.

Feiman was born in Great Britain but has lived at Midreshet Sde Boker since 1976, when he began researching solar energy. A world expert in the field, he says the economic model he has built will allow a significant part of Israel’s energy to go solar within the decade.

If a similar effect occurs in the U.S., it would fulfill many longstanding dreams and be of great significance to future American energy policy and usage.