In memory of Arnold Goldman–Israel’s Solar Pioneer

by | Jun 23, 2017 | Obituaries

Arnold Goldman, who brought credit to Israel’s high tech industry with the establishment of Luz Industries Israel Ltd. in 1983, passed away last month after a long illness.

Goldman had more than three decades of experience in the energy industry. He founded Jerusalem-based Luz International, Ltd. and served as its CEO. Goldman and the Luz International team first proved that solar power can be reliably produced in large quantities and cost effectively by building the world’s nine largest solar thermal plants in California’s Mojave Desert between 1984 and 1990. At the time, those nine plants generated 354MW of power, equivalent to 90 percent of the world’s solar electricity. The plants are still operating profitably today.

In 2011, Goldman was presented the annual Lifelong Contribution to Sustainable Energy Award from the Eilat- Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative. He was also the recipient of three other international awards for his contribution to solar energy development, including the International Solar Energy Society Achievement Through Action Award “To the Solar Energy Pioneer” (in memorial of Christopher A. Weeks), the European Solar Energy Association’s Euro Solar Augustin-Mouchot-Prize, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from SolarPACES (Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems). He held numerous patents for his inventions and innovations.

But this is only a small part of the story as it does not provide a full picture of the man, his genius and his soul. When, in early 1984 he committed to building a small solar power generating facility in California by the end of the year, Luz, the company based in, at the time, Jerusalem’s small Har Hotzvim Tech Park, Luz had no solar technology. As a matter of fact the telex code for the company was IHPIS which, roughly, stood for Israel Home Products. But he believed it could be done and, in fact, when the year ended SEGS-I as it was known, was producing electricity in a field outside of Daggett in the high desert of California. Goldman’s genius allowed him to assemble a team, create the needed infrastructure, locate the required suppliers of parts in various parts of the world, and bring it to reality, all in 11 months.

I joined the Luz team in May, 1984 in the early stages of my Aliyah when I was still living in the immigrant absorption center in Gilo in south Jerusalem. I was part of the company’s senior staff and never stopped being amazed at the creativity, the vision, and the faith in his people that Goldman exhibited every day of his life.

Clearly, the additional solar plants that Luz built were testimony both to his genius and his ability to assemble a loyal team of professionals whom he inspired to achieve the challenging objectives he put in front of them. Of course, simultaneously he was always coming up with new ideas and new ways to impact humanity. A serious student of Torah and its hidden messages, he had a unique capability to creatively meld the message of Torah with modern technology that would enable mankind to realize God’s plan for the world. Truth be told, had he lived more of his dreams would have come to reality.

He was, of course, blessed with a loving and supportive wife, Karen, and children as well who imbibed his spirit and creativity. No doubt their lives will be the living testimony to his dreams.

The light of the world will now be a bit dimmer without his soulful presence. Y’hi Zichron Baruch…may his memory be for a blessing.

Sherwin Pomerantz is president of Atid EDI Ltd., a Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm, and formerly administrative vice-president of Luz Industries Israel.

– Sherwin Pomerantz