Alexander Vagg

Posts by Alexander Vagg

I recently returned from a trip to Israel, complete with scenic views, delicious local cuisine, and of course, the nagging feeling that I would be blown up at any moment. What struck me more than anything however, was the heat. Much like the hummus, it is impossible to escape, even in the “cold” winter months. From the Negev deserts to the bustling streets of Tel Aviv, the land of Israel is “burning up with heat” today as it was over a hundred years ago, as then-humble newspaper correspondent Mark Twain observed. Unlike in Twain’s time however, the rooftops of modern Israel are decorated with hundreds and thousands of solar heaters, making it the world leader in the use of solar hot water systems.

The history of solar energy in Israel began only a few years after the establishment of the state. Unlike its Middle Eastern neighbors, Israel was (until very recently) thought to possess almost no fossil fuel resources and so in the 1950’s, Israeli engineer Levi Yissar developed a solar water heater to address the energy shortage. By 1967 around one in twenty Israeli households heated their water with the sun and over 50,000 solar heaters had been purchased. Following the 1970’s oil crisis, Harry Zvi Tabor, the father of Israel’s solar industry, developed the prototype of the solar water heater now decorating 90% of Israel’s rooftops. Keep reading →