IMPROVATE CleanTech & Renewable Energy Conference: “Countries That Fail to Join the CleanTech Revolution Will Pay a Heavy Price”

IMPROVATE’s CleanTech and Renewable Energy international conference took place in Tel Aviv last week, focusing on issues of recycling and renewable energy. Among the participants at the conference, were senior government officials from Europe, Africa and Israel, alongside investors and Israeli cleantech companies

Against the background of recent regional energy agreements signed by Israel, an international clean energy and recycling conference took place in Tel Aviv last week. The conference, organized by IMPROVATE, presented technological solutions to increase production of renewable energy in view of the challenges presented by global climate change. Among other issued discussed at the conference were energy storage and transportation, and innovative solutions for recycling and manufacturing of decomposable and compostable products.

Among the participants at the conference were former Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, Jacques Ipongo Kumalela, Secretary General of Infrastructures and Public Works of The  Democratic Republic Of Congo; Temenuzhka Petkova, Minister of Energy of Bulgaria;  Nicholas Christodoulidis, head of economic and commercial affairs at the embassy of Greece in Israel;  Job D. Masima, Ambassador of The United Republic of Tanzania; and Reta Nega Alemu, Ambassador Of Ethiopia.

Also attending were top global experts and leading Israeli technology and innovation companies from the cleantech and renewables sector.  Among the countries represented were Greece, Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, the Slovak Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Participants saw presentations of cutting-edge technologies by Israeli companies Phinergy, UBQ, MyMann, Luminescent Power, Chakratec, Airovation Technologies, Qnergy, and heard from Israeli cleantech fund, Capital Nature.

Nicholas Christodoulidis, head of economic and commercial affairs at the embassy of Greece in Israel
Nicholas Christodoulidis (right), head of economic and commercial affairs at the embassy of Greece in Israel together with IMPROVATE CEO Ronit Hasin Hochman.
Improvate International Conference Cleantech & Renewable Energy 2021. Full Broadcastwalla studios

IMPROVATE Founder and Chair Irina Nevzlin said: “Clean energy is one of the most important issues facing the world today. We must strive toward a carbon-free future if we are to cut energy costs and stop global warming. Also, clean energy can provide major economic benefits for developing countries, some of which do not yet have universal electricity. Improving their situation is part of IMPROVATE’s vision to make the world a better place.

IMPROVATE as a platform that brings together governments and innovation and technology companies to make technology accessible to all, can facilitate the adoption of clean energy to give our children a sustainable, green future.”

IMPROVATE board member President Rosen Plevneliev told the conference that he European Green Deal will make some one trillion euros available for cleantech and renewables and this along with economic and green stimulus plans in the United States creates enormous opportunities for world-leading companies from Israel.

Plevneliev called on Israeli companies to grab these new opportunities, especially in south-eastern Europe: “The money is there, the opportunities are there. Let's develop them together,” Plevneliev said.

Countries that join the new wave of cleantech and renewable energy technologies will benefit enormously from the new economy and high value jobs, but that those that stay in the past will pay a heavy price if they do not transform, Plevneliev added.

Panel

Nicholas Christodoulidis, head of economic and commercial affairs at the embassy of Greece in Israel addressed the importance of the planned East-Med natural gas pipeline and the Euro-Asia Interconnector, the world’s longest submarine power cable which will connect Israel, Cyprus and Greece. Christodoulidis said both of the mega-projects were extremely important to the energy security of the three countries and would also enable them to increase the share of renewables in their energy mix.

“When you produce renewables, you have to worry about one thing. If your network is not big enough, then we start to worry about what we call the intermittency of production. You need to be able to cover for the losses, especially if we're talking about solar and wind energy, renewables that are intermittent in the sense that there are times when it's not windy, and there are times when it's not sunny. So you need to have a security of supply. And this is what happens with the interconnector, it gives Israel the possibility to export its electricity made from natural gas or renewables, and it does wonders for Cyprus, which is isolated, and also for Crete where it makes landfall before it goes to mainland Greece. So this is a project that is especially important for renewable energy supply.”

Christodoulidis also noted that the Euro-Asia interconnector was eligible for European Union funding as a “project of common interest” as it crosses two EU member states and complies with the environmental and climate strategies of the EU, and that funding could reach as much as 50% of the initial estimated cost of the project - estimated to be some 3.5 billion euros.

H.E Reta Nega Alemu, Ambassador Of Ethiopia said that his country has abundant renewable energy sources, including hydropower, geothermal, solar and wind, and that it has ambitious plans to develop those resources. Noting that Ethiopia’s potential is large enough to export renewables to other countries in the region, Ambassador Alemu said this presented opportunities to investors in the field.  “Ethiopia has opened up and is now inviting investors in the energy sector, especially in public-private partnership programs.”

H.E Reta Nega Alemu, Ambassador Of Ethiopia and H.E Job D. Masima
H.E. Job D. Masima, Ambassador of Tanzania (right), and H.E. Reta Nega Alemu, Ambassador of Ethiopia.

Jacques Ipongo Kumalela, Secretary General of Infrastructures and Public Works of The  Democratic Republic Of Congo said that while his country boasted renewable energy resources with the potential to power half of Africa, it has insufficient resources and technological know-how to maximize its potential. “We need a lot of investments and the experience of other countries,” he said.  

Temenuzhka Petkova, Minister of Energy of Bulgaria said her country would be very pleased to work with Israeli companies and to gain from their experience and know-how. “I believe that a very solid ground for this work together could be the recently signed memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation between Bulgaria and the state of Israel,” she said. 

Job D. Masima, Ambassador of The United Republic of Tanzania said Africa needed enormous investment in order to realize its massive potential for renewable energy.  “In order to have universal electrification by 2030, Africa needs to invest over $100 billion annually, out of that, 40% for renewable energy. We cannot do that ourselves, so investment for Africa is what we need.”

He called on Israeli companies to come and take part in the blooming African economy.  “It's the time for them to be part of the African successes story. ... Don't miss this opportunity because it is a golden one,” Ambassador Masima said.

Yahel Vilan, Israel’s Ambassador to Serbia said Israel with its well-known capabilities was a desired partner in Serbia, not only in solar energy and other renewables, but in water treatment. “We see ourselves as an important partner for Serbia. One of the issues that was raised in my first meeting with Serbia’s prime minister was how we can contribute to the very important issue of Serbia getting to the needed standardization in water treatment,” Vilan said. 

IMPROVATE CEO Ronit Hasin-Hochman said the conference showed the importance of combating climate change for the sake of future generations. “IMPROVATE’s forum is essential to facilitate cooperation between companies and governments to make technologies in the cleantech and renewables sector accessible in order to achieve these important goals.” 

Dr. Avi Luvchik, head of business development at Capital Nature, an investment firm that focuses on ground-breaking technologies, aiming to solve global issues in areas of sustainability.  Capital Nature is a leading Israeli investment company in the sustainability and renewable energy sections and holds a diverse portfolio in those sectors. Dr. Luvchik presented some of the companies in Capital Nature’s portfolio, including Chakratec, which also presented at the conference. “What connects the companies in our portfolio is that all of them have disruptive technologies that can provide solutions for the problems we face in these fields,” Dr. Luvchik said.

Chakratec is a leading provider of kinetic energy storage solutions, based on its innovative flywheel technology, which enables sustainable and cost-effective solutions, to a wide range of heavy-duty applications, requiring high-performance and high endurance.

Chakratec aims to solve the main limitation of the electric vehicle revolution – the psychological barrier of “range anxiety” - by boosting power-constrained grid with its unique energy storage solutions.

Chakratec CEO, Boaz Weizer, explained that vehicle owners are reluctant to switch to EVs, as they are concerned about not being able to use EVs for medium/long range trips, due to insufficient charging infrastructure along the roads. “The available grid infrastructure is power-constrained and cannot support EV fast-charging. Our unique solution can boost the grid anywhere and allow EV owners to charge their vehicle’s battery within only a few minutes. Vast deployment of such ultra-fast-charging infrastructure, supported with our kinetic energy storage, is the most practical, economical, and sustainable way to overcome the “range anxiety” and accelerate the adoption of EVs. We believe that our unique solution will become a key contributor to the EV revolution”.

TIPA is a ground-breaking food-tech company that is paving the way forward to solve the global plastic packaging crisis. TIPA is a pioneer in the flexible packaging industry, providing a sustainable alternative to plastic. Inspired by nature’s packaging, TIPA’s compostable packaging solutions combine superior quality with a sustainable end of life solution.

TIPA CEO and co-founder Daphna Nissenbaum said: “What we envision is packaging that emulates nature and can replace conventional plastic with a fully compostable solution that will decompose and return to the earth within up to six months, renewing resources to the earth as compost. This whole process replenishes nutrients to the soil, aiding the regeneration of land and conditions for growing fruits and vegetables. We call this organic recycling.”

MayMaan is reinventing the internal combustion engine with its Aquastroke modified piston engine that utilizes affordable, clean, and renewable fuel derived from water and ethanol. “Our capital cost is similar to that of a gasoline engine, but our operational costs are less than half, and well below hybrid, electric or hydrogen fuel cell. The same goes for power generation,” said CEO Eitan Shmueli.

UBQ Materials has developed one of the most promising advanced waste conversion technologies, converting household waste into a climate positive raw material for the manufacturing industry, emptying landfills, one product at a time.

UBQ Co-founder and CEO Jack Bigio, who leads the company’s vision and strategy, bringing 25 years of experience in international project development, financing, and capital markets with leading global companies, said: “We are replacing oil-based plastics in existing manufacturing industries with a very cost-competitive bio-based sustainable material, that supports our transition to a truly circular economy."

Commenting on waste recycling technologies of the kind presented by TIPA and UBQ, Dr. Roy Posmanik of the Volcani Institute said “the production chain has to show responsibility for waste and treating plastic waste, as a resource is a huge change.”

Phinergy has developed a unique metal-air technology for energy generation and storage, which uses metals as a clean energy source. The technology has several applications, including backup energy systems for critical sites, batteries for range extension in electric vehicles, and low-cost energy storage for renewable solar and wind energy. Phinergy recently completed an IPO on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange.

Phinergy CEO David Mayer said: “Phinergy has developed, over the last ten years, a clean and affordable way to extract a lot of energy from metals. We are already selling energy backup products for critical infrastructure, we have programs for electric vehicles with three auto makers in India, where we show double and even triple driving range, and we are also starting a program with Doral Group on low-cost renewable energy storage, for complete day, complete night, winter to summer energy".

Luminescent Power innovative solar energy technology, can produce 24/7/365 solar energy at a lower cost than any other technology. Co-Founder and CEO Doron Tamir said:
“The assumption for photovoltaic energy in 2050 is 8 cents per kwh, which is very expensive, but we at Luminescent can do it for exactly 5 cents in 2025. So that’s 25 years closer and a much better price.”

Airovation Technologies is an award-winning Carbon Capture technology firm that aims to tackle the global challenge of carbon emissions. Airovation's patented technology can capture carbon dioxide indoors - where they partner with leading home appliance companies on next-generation home purifiers - as well as in industrial processes where Airovation partners with global fertilizer and oil & gas companies for CO2 reduction. This breakthrough process converts the CO2 into oxygen and valuable mineral end-products that can be sold as fertilizers.  "Essentially, what we invented is a highly efficient process to turn Carbon into Value. Selling these mineral end-products makes the total Carbon Capture process economically viable and in some cases even profitable". said Gil Tomer, Co-founder & and Chief Operating Officer at Airovation.

"Qnergy is bringing to market a maintenance-free power generator that helps fight climate change and helps resiliency.  Qnergy CEO Dr. Ory Zik, a physicist, says that the company's Free Piston Stirling Engine was employed during the recent snowstorms in Texas without any of its customers losing power despite the mass blackouts. Regarding the company's growth plans, Dr. Zik said: "We constantly reduce our costs, therefore our price. So our growth plan is to address larger and larger markets as our prices go down." 

WFI Group comprises 4 business units. Each is an expert in the water treatment arena - from RO desalination, through inorganic pollutants removal, via biological wastewater treatment, to holistic integration and project management.

WFI creates new value from water to enhance public health and sustainability, shifting the model from economic savings to revenue and growth, using breakthrough technologies and a circular economy approach.

Dana Hubner, VP BD, stated: “Triple-T by WFI delivers clean, safe and affordable effluent via eco-friendly solutions, simplifying operation, minimizing equipment, labor and sludge, resulting in up to 80% OPEX and energy savings, wastewater autonomy and peace of mind.”

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About IMPROVATE

IMPROVATE is a platform that makes technology and innovation accessible to countries worldwide, with an emphasis on advancing Israeli technologies. Launched in September 2020, IMPROVATE operates out of London and Tel Aviv and connects leaders and decision-makers, and companies and investors with technology and innovation companies. IMPROVATE works through international conferences and business delegations and promotes deals between governments, organizations, and investors with innovation companies. Among IMPROVATE’s Board members are former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, President Rosen Plevneliev – President of Bulgaria from 2010-2017, and IDF Major Gen. (Ret.) Amos Gilad.