June 2016 is truly a mind opening month with full of inspiration. I write this blog series to share some inspiring moments I have during my four week stay in Rehovot when I enrolled in a short course, ‘Clean Technologies – Environment technology, innovation and management systems as a means for regional and local economic development’ run by the Weitz Centre funded by MASHAV. A combination of classes, project workshops and visits give me an incredible insight on how a society can leapfrog many barriers and turn them into innovative and cutting-edge solutions to highly complex issues.

 

A MASHAV short course about clean technologies in Israel opens my pandora about a bunch of innovations and technological inventions in supporting sustainable development. I captured a basic few in several visits in three weeks: energy week, water week and waste week. 

Energy week

Energy week is what I was waiting for since it is the project I brought from home is about energy. The sessions in the class are useful as an introduction but after six months after this short course, what I only remember mainly the field visits. They are meaningful and stick very well in my head.

 

Solar photovoltaic installation combined with a prepaid mobile phone system can save millions of people who are not yet connected to grid. Lumos-global, was sharing their work during the course. Lumos is a company which is building a partnership with a telecommunication/mobile phone providers in Nigeria. Lumos has made electricity available for hundreds of villages although it just started three years ago. A smart innovative high tech move indeed. It truly offers short cuts and cutting edge solutions to reach a large scale off-grid solar panel installation. Piggy back a system while you can to leap frog. I never thought this way before. It is one of the take home message for those who want to invent and innovate in their life.

 

We visit EnergiyaGlobal which gives a glance on how the enterprise can implement a solar energy project at scale with less than a year time frame, pretty incredible to think that with enabling environment, difficult and challenging projects can be implemented so rapidly. With a political commitment, the determination of the implementing agency which is at the top end and a buy in from communities, available land and there is much policy certainty in place, a mega project could happen instantly. A no brainer while in other place this can be a million dollar question. EnergiyaGlobal is not doing a magic trick. From what I see they have an eagle eye and strategy to quickly scan where there is an enabling environment to make a large scale solar farm comes true and that needs a sharp and thorough global  insight.

 

A visit to a solar tower project project is also another inspiring one. The leader aims not only to promote the development of a solar tower but also to push ideas to live sustainably as a whole package. He has abundant ideas turning organic and durable materials for building future homes, green buildings and green ideas for insulations. I was inspired by many ideas he has and his passion but I wonder how to scale up all these great ideas  and the strategies for ushering cultural acceptance of these new ideas since it involves a significant deal of how society should adapt and change the way it lives for decades and even for centuries.

 

 

Water week

We visited the largest desalination plant and one of the largest sewage recycling water stations on earth. It is truly fascinating knowing the fact that this largest desalination plant is only run by around 75 people in total and one hundred per cent powered by renewable energy sources, mainly biomass and solar. A huge investment by the Israeli government to ensure their water security. I wonder if any other country in this world will respond to a war and surrounding threats by building infrastructure that is good for the people and the planet like Israeli, I guess this balances out a little bit the negative effects of wars. 

 

    

 

I have never seen the water recycling action as big as the sewage water station in israel where they recycle almost 85% of the whole water for irrigation and other use. Impressive achievement but again this is a result of a bitterness and water scarcity in the country. It is another expensive investment and I doubt if there is another country as crazy as israel to build this whole lot in this current world economic slow down. Alternatively an NGO offers a cheaper way to recycle the water using algae and i hope this idea can be scaled up to reach places where water and finance is scarce.

 

    

 

Waste week

Hiriya is a transformational icon which only a small number of people in the world know about it. A trash of mountain is hidden under a beautiful garden. While many countries in the world are building many trash mountain, Israel has decided to close it down more than a decade ago (in 1999). The waste transit station there is still functioning and there is a biomass station next to it. The place is a show case of how many cities can coordinate to solve the tragedy of the commons and come with clear and clean solution. If more than 10 cities can work together why not with multiple countries or more to solve our global emission issue. Would a carbon fee as this waste fee charged per truck will work if we talk about transferring the idea to carbon emissions? 

 

    

Acknowledgement

This article is a summary of a four-week-course on clean technology by the Weitz Centre for International Development. Thanks to Mashav which provides the scholarship so that I could spent a lovely time together with 27 amazing individuals across 17 different countries. The opportunity truly opens my eyes to see how technologies applied to many areas of life to help human and environment in its development and survival.