The geographically small Israel is making a big statement about the importance of solar energy in the sun-blessed Middle Eastern nation. On Sunday, legislators and environmentalists gathered at the Knesset, Israel’s national assembly in Jerusalem, to inaugurate the largest solar field of any parliament in the world (Germany’s Bundestag parliament building comes in second followed by Austria’s parliament). Nearly 1,500 solar panels placed on the Knesset roof and surrounding buildings will provide 10 percent of the assembly’s electricity with an installed capacity of 450 kW.
“What is happening before our very eyes is indeed exciting, a true revolution. It is not just the solar panels; it is the message, the idea, the new path. This is not merely a revolution in energy-saving; it is also a turning point with regards to the environmental awareness revolution that we have been promoting over the past two years,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said at the dedication ceremony.
The solar panels are part of the Green Knesset Project launched in January 2014 that aims to make Israel’s parliament building a model of sustainability. Other energy efficiency initiatives include changing overhead lighting to LED, recycling, composting, upgrading the water and air-conditioning systems, installing electric vehicle charging stations and eliminating plastic bottles from committee meetings. Taken together, the sustainability measures are expected to reduce the Knesset’s electricity bills by one-third by the end of 2015.
“This saving of energy has far-reaching environmental implications, not only in the direct economic sense, but also in the sense that it will dramatically reduce the harm caused to the environment,” added Edelstein.
Samuel Chayen, sustainability coordinator for the Green Knesset Project, said that parliaments in Asia and Europe are interested in learning from Israel about how to implement their own sustainability initiatives.
“We have a number of international agreements of cooperation in green research signed with the parliaments of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Albania and Romania,” said Chayen.
While the White House has installed solar panels, the U.S. Congress has yet to come together in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation to green the Capitol Building as Israel’s Knesset has done.
Images via The Knesset