Located at the southern tip of Israel’s Negev desert, the Eilat Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative has turned the arid desert region into a hub for the creation of renewable off-grid energy technologies and sustainable development. Eilat Eilot is a non-profit, owned collectively, or by kibbutzim, in Eilat and Hevel Eilot and based in Kibbutz Ketura. Environmentalists Dorit Banet and Noam Ilan founded the Eilat Eilot Initiative in 2007 (2011 officially). Banet, who serves as CEO, explains that, as entrepreneurs, she and Ilan work day-to-day on the development of the “technology, infrastructure, regulations, awareness, and new financial models that, together, can create a new reality.”
Off-grid technologies function independently from “municipal infrastructure such as the electrical power grid, water, and sanitation systems and other utility services.” A pioneer in the creation and promotion of off-grid technologies, Eilat Eilot built Israel’s first off-grid demonstration village. The purpose of the Off Grid Hub is “to open a new market and field of interest,” says Banet. Taking advantage of the desert sun, Eilat Eilot relies primarily on solar technologies. Eilat Eilot’s Off Grid Hub serves as a model for companies working to develop “products and technologies that will provide energy, water and agriculture needs to populations that [are] out of reach of national water and energy grids.”
One of Eilat Eilot’s major challenges has been to make its technologies sufficiently affordable. Banet hopes that in the coming years Eilat Eilot will improve the cost and advance the capabilities of its products as well as create “a platform for young, bright people to innovate new technologies.” To achieve the latter, Eilat Eilot hosts an annual conference and competition called Sustainergy™ that invites youth from around the world to present their own research on and solutions for unsolved environmental problems.
Eilat Eilot’s goal of sustainable development relates not only to the environment but also to job creation. Before the Eilat Eilot project came to the region, employment for locals was almost exclusively related to agriculture and tourism. “We are trying to create a new field of jobs and source of income in Israel’s periphery,” Banet says. “We see the field of renewable and sustainable energy as a catalyst for regional development.” Eilat Eilot exemplifies the way in which increased investment in renewable energy leads to labor market expansion.
Sources: Banet, Dorit. Personal interview. 3 July 2015.
“Welcome to Eilat Eilot.” Eilat Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2015. <http://www.renewable-energy-eilat.org/>.