from the September 2009 issue

Ninth Most Innovative Country

According to an updated ranking of an Economist Intelligence Unit report called "the world's most innovative countries," Israel was rated the ninth most innovative country globally in 2008, and is forecast to rise further to win the eighth position sometime between 2009 and 2013. The innovation index ranks 82 countries based on their innovation capacity and forecasts their performance through 2013.

Solar power in Israel and the Israeli solar energy industry has a history that dates to the founding of the country. In the 1950s, Levi Yissar developed a solar water heater to help assuage an energy shortage in the new country. By 1967 around one in twenty households heated their water with the sun and 50,000 solar heaters had been sold. With the 1970s oil crisis, Harry Zvi Tabor, the father of Israel's solar industry, developed the prototype solar water heater that is now used in over 90% of Israeli homes. Israeli engineers are on the cutting edge of solar energy technology and its solar companies work on projects around the world.

Israel has embraced solar energy. There is no oil on Israeli land and the country's tenuous relations with its oil-rich neighbors made the search for a stable source of energy a national priority. Israeli innovation and research has advanced solar technology to a degree that it is almost cost competitive with fossil fuels. Its abundant sun made the country a natural location for the promising technology. The high annual incident solar irradiance in the Negev Desert has spurred an internationally renowned solar research and development industry, with Harry Tabor and David Faiman, of the National Solar Energy Center two of its more prominent members. At the end of 2008 a feed-in tariff scheme was approved, which immediately put in motion the building of many residential and commercial solar energy power station projects.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report September 2009

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