BGU National Solar Energy Research Centre

"The largest and most impressive source of energy in our world, the source of life for every plant and animal, yet a source so little used by mankind today is the sun...
... This energy can be converted into a driving, dynamic and electric force, and even after the exhaustion of all the uranium and thorium deposits from the face of the earth, solar energy will continue to flow toward us almost indefinitely."
David Ben-Gurion, Southward, 1956.

Located at Sede Boqer, the Solar Energy Centre is the national alternative energy Research Institute of Israel.  The Centre studies alternative and clean energy technologies, focusing on those involving Solar power.  Technology developed by the Centre has practical implications.  Cost-effective solar panels that pay for themselves.

The Centre's activities are based on a three-fold mission of:
  • Strategically pursuing ground-breaking research to harness the potential of Solar Energy;
  • Scientifically assessing new equipment for solar power production to evaluate performance and ecomonic value;
  • Educating the next generation of scientists and engineers for leadership in Solar Energy.  Post-doctoral students from around the world choose BGU for their research spanning all aspects of Solar Energy - new materials, optics, tracking devices, radiation measurement and more.

The Natural Advantage

Located in the heart of the Negev Desert, Sede Boqer has a unique natural advantage of climatic conditions proven to be more accurate than computer simulations in testing Solar Energy systems.

The Outdoor Solar Energy Laboratory is an internationally-recognised test site for photovaltic panels.  The research conducted into the solar cell performance provides critical information that can be used for developing next-generation solar devices. 

The Solution to Cost-Effective Solar Power

Longtime Director of the Centre, Prof. David Faiman, is one of the world's veterans in Solar Energy research.  "The biggest problem with solar energy," he explains, "is that the source - sunlight - is so diffuse.  If  you collected all the sunlight that fell on one-square metre patch of desert for an entire year, you'd have hardly more energy than you can get from a single barrel of oil."

The challenge Faiman took on was developing a solar panel that could pay for itself.  The answer he found: mirrors.  "By installing mirrors in the solar panel and curving them in a certain way, I was able to devise a panel that is smaller and cheaper than ordinary ones."  The system is now being marketed by a start-up, ZenithSolar. 
 
Promoting Regional Cooperation

Israel has peace treaties with two of her neighbours: Egypt and Jordan.  Both these countries are in need of ever increasing amounts of electricity.  Giant solar power plants in the deserts of Egypt and Jordan based on Israeli technology could provide power for all three countries, and for the Palestinians.  Environmentally friendly and sustainable energy production would strengthen cooperation among all of the nations concerned.

Spotlight on Prof. David Faiman

London born and Oxford-educated Prof. David Faiman is Director of the National Solar Energy Centre and chair of the Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics, is the lead developer of the new CPV system licensed to ZenithSolar. He is an expert in solar radiation, solar energy conversion systems, solar devices and materials, photovoltaic conversion and solar-thermal conversion.

The Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics is an interdisciplinary research group. It includes scientists with training in geography, meteorology, mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, physics and chemistry. There are 18 faculty members in the department and many more from other disciplines who are affiliated with the National Solar Energy Center.