The Past, Present and Future of Solar Power in Israel

Gil Kornberg
December 11, 2016

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2016


Israel has long been at the forefront of both the development of solar technology and its implementation. Beginning in the 1950s, Israel had to address energy shortages that troubled the young state. This began with solar powered water heaters developed by Levi Yissar, currently used in over 90% of Israeli households. [1] The prototype was created by Harry Zvi Tabor, due to the oil crisis in 1970s. [2] Following the oil crisis, the Knesset passed a law mandating that solar water heaters be installed in all new Israeli homes. Israel is now a world leader in several measures of solar energy use at a national level. Israel is the world leader in solar energy use per capita at 3% of national energy consumption. [3] This paper will explore Israel's solar research and innovations.

Solar Energy Research in Israel: GTEP

The Grand Technion Energy Program conducts research in four different fields: renewable energy, alternative fuels, energy storage and conversion, and energy conservation. The Technion is considered a world leader in nanotechnology, and that is reflected in the GTEP's research. [4] Professor Efrat Lifshitz discovered that nanocrystal quantum dots in nanomaterials can absorb sunlight outside of the visible range, including in the UV and infrared ranges. [5] This is important for photovoltaic cells in which sunlight is converted into electricity, because it could promise an increase in the efficiency of solar power. Increasing the efficiency of solar power is one of the main challenges as solar tries to take on a bigger burden of world energy consumption.


Israel has long been a world leader in many research fields. Solar energy is no exception. Due to its geopolitical situation, the small nation must be as efficient and independent as possible in supplying sustainable renewable energy to its growing populace. Its policies and success in research have given it a reputation as both an innovator and as a standard for other nations to strive toward and emulate.

© Gil Kornberg. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. Cariou, "Solar Water Heater," Global Energy Network Institute, August 2010.

[2] S. Udasin, "Zvi Tabor, Solar Pioneer, Dies at 98," The Jerusalem Post, 17 Dec 15.

[3] Y. Zvirin and S. Zamkow, "Solar Energy in Israel - Utilization and Research," Israel Institute of Technology, 13 May 91.

[4] Z. H. Kafafi et al., "The Role of Photonics in Energy," J. Photon. Energy 5, 050997 (2015).

[5] A. Shapiro, "Tuning Optical Activity of IV-VI Colloidal Quantum Dots in the Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) Spectral Regime," Chem. Mater. 28, 6409, (2016).