Attending the 2015 Renewable Energy as a Catalyst for Regional Development training seminar has been a rewarding and unique experience, particularly because of the opportunity to speak with and learn from numerous prominent renewable energy experts. Organized in partnership with Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation–known as MASHAV in its Hebrew acronym–the training aimed at transferring the renewable energy expertise and technologies that have assisted Israel in its own path to sustainable development to other (developing) countries.
The program, held at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) on Kibbutz Ketura in south Israel, provided an opportunity for mid-level professionals from the private and public sector to gain knowledge about the basics of renewable energies and how to use renewable energy sources as a catalyst for regional development. The primary topics included the principles of renewable energy, the present, past and future of energy consumption, the pros and cons of renewable energy, energy production and costs, energy conversion, energy assessments, fossil fuels, regulations, environmental issues and the social and cultural impact of renewable energy.
Listening to the experts in their fields talk about the vision and goals of their organizations and the various achievements of their projects, I have learned much about the history and progression of renewable energy in Israel; I have been inspired and touched by the stories and (sometimes no so) warm memories of Kibbutz Ketura members as they struggled to establish the first off-grid solar PV project in Israel; and finally, I feel empowered and motivated to contribute to providing energy access services to poor communities back in my home country Kenya, using the knowledge accumulated in the past (and here in Israel) to strive towards effective future provision of reliable and affordable energy.
I am very grateful to the World Energy Foundation and MASHAV for the chance to attend the training this year and will take the lessons to heart. For fellow renewable energy development enthusiasts around the world, I hope that this piece will provide words of inspiration and motivation on our journey to conserve our world’s climate system, as it has done for me.