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15.02.2022 | יד אדר א' התשפב

Growing Crops Alongside Solar Panels

Joint renewable energy, climate and environment projects already underway

סגנית הנשיא למחקר של אוניברסיטת בר אילן בשדה של תפוחי אדמה

Bar-Ilan University and Doral Group, an entrepreneurial company in the field of renewable energy, have signed a series of agreements for strategic collaboration. Doral will become a member of Bar-Ilan's Energy and Sustainability Center, and the entities will work to promote research, development, and commercialization of several issues, as well as identify and realize joint business opportunities in response to global challenges in the fields of renewable energy, climate and environment. The agreements were signed through BIRAD, Bar-Ilan Research and Development company.

The agricultural aspect of the research is being led by Prof. Yigal Cohen, winner of the Israel Prize for Agriculture. In the framework of the collaboration, the first solar-agriculture research project of its kind in Israel has been set up on the University grounds for cultivating potato crops. Solar panels installed within the field produce renewable energy while maintaining crop productivity. The research will incorporate advanced technologies to minimize the effect of shading on crop production protection against chilling and heat, and water consumption.

In other locations, Doral has launched solar orchards known as the "Doral Orchards" in which grapes, avocados, lychees, and deciduous trees are grown alongside solar panels. Here, too, crop and energy production are maximized.

Around the experimental plot at Bar-Ilan, a "solar fence", which generates electricity and provides security, has been constructed. As part of Doral's development capabilities, security accessories such as cameras, flood lighting, and contact alert are to be installed on the fence. Energy storage units will be installed in the near future.

Another agreement was signed, led by Prof. Doron Aurbach and Prof. Malachi Noked of the Bar-Ilan Energy and Sustainability Center, for developing the "battery of the future.” This is a cheap, green battery with high energy efficiency, based on sodium ion, which is suitable for storing energy from renewable energy sources. As part of the research, a joint venture will be established by Doral-Tech and BIRAD that will give Doral the exclusive rights to use, commercialize and market this technology in global markets.

Doral currently holds about 40% of the allocation for solar facilities integrating electricity storage in Israel, after winning the two competitive tenders published by the Electricity Authority. It will set up around 750 MWp combined with 1,400 MW/h storage during the coming years. Winning the two tenders has established Doral as a leader in the field of solar energy and storage in Israel and around the world.

Prof. Arie Zaban, President of Bar-Ilan University: "I am happy to be connected with a company like Doral, which is an influential player in the ecosystem of sustainable innovation. A sustainable environment depends on solving the energy problem. The two are intertwined and we have proven capabilities in the field of energy, with world-renowned researchers whose knowledge drives processes and impacts a variety of fields. The University, because of its size and central location, serves as a kind of ‘living laboratory’ for a range of projects in the field, and we intend to continue to do so."

Roee Furman, CEO of Doral-Tech: "The agreements with Bar-Ilan University reflect another element in positioning Doral as a world leader of innovation in renewable energy. Doral is proud to be the first partner in establishing Bar-Ilan's exclusive energy and sustainability center, and to collaborate with a leading academic institution and renowned researchers such as Prof. Doron Aurbach and Prof. Yigal Cohen. As part of our collaboration, we have initiated applied research at the forefront of global science to develop green energy storage systems, which include, among other things, expendable materials that are not based on the lithium resource, as well as projects that involve dual use of the land, such as agriculture and energy – which are in line with Doral's diverse projects in Israel and around the world."

Doral Energy-Tech Ventures (Doral-Tech) is Doral's innovation arm, which engages in identifying investments that are synergetic with the company's operations and needs. Doral is a leading entrepreneurial company in the field of renewable energy and environmental infrastructure, operating since 2007. As of last May, Doral's inventory of projects stood at about 9 gigawatts, about 6 gigawatts of this in the US, and the rest in Israel and Europe (Italy, Poland, Romania and Denmark).

At the recently inaugurated Center for Sustainability and Energy at Bar-Ilan University researchers, entrepreneurs and industry leaders will translate research into energy products. Partners in the venture include leaders of public opinion from academia in Israel and around the world, government institutions, start-ups, and industrial companies in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The center will also include partners from the fields of regulation, environment, sustainability, and education