Renewable energy - 05 Aug 08

Renewable energy - 05 Aug 08

These days renewable, or sustainable, energy is hot news.

It's an issue driving a lot of business thought. And although working on solutions may now seem fashionable there are some companies that been working on viable, non-polluting businesses, for some time.

Peter Day reports from two innovative, and long established firms working on renewable energy technology and production.

Ormat Technologies uses geothermal and ‘waste' heat to generate electricity . The company was conceived by it's founder, Lucien Bronicki, fifty years ago.

Econcern is the younger business, at 24 years, but Ad van Wijk the founder, is equally passionate about finding ways of creating sustainable energy solutions and putting them in to practice.

About the programme by Peter Day

One week after the Monaco Gran Prix, Monte Carlo fills up with a very different class of contestants..competing for the World Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This is an elaborate contest organised by the international business consultants Ernst and Young. Regional finals produce local winners who go on to a national contest (in 43 countries this year).
The national winners then fight it out in Monte Carlo for the global award, saluted by an elaborate dinner and splendid firework display lighting up the expensive Monegasque skyline.
Monte Carlo is not my cup of tea; slumbering after the F1 cars have departed, the hot provincial streets lined with preposterous luxury shops echo to the occasional sound of ambulances rushing what is probably another woman off to an emergency facelift.
But this contest is a wonderful place to encounter business people with a story to tell, geared up to tell it. Most of them don't seem too worried about the Global Award..national recognition is quite enough, plus the chance to mingle with like-minded achievers with vastly different experiences.
So we park ourselves in a little room in the Hermitage Hotel; every 40 minutes there's a meek knock on the door and another millionaire or billionaire presents himself for interview. (There is just a smattering of women, too).
So rich is the harvest of national winners with intriguing stories to tell that they provide programmes stretching well into the year.
Of course, sometimes unfortunate things happen to the entrepreneurs before we can broadcast their views. But this week's Global Business is about long-held business ideas whose time may well be arriving.
Ormat is an Israeli husband and wife company which has its roots in the smoke belched from factories in the French city of Lisle more than 50 years ago. As a student rowing on the canals there, the sight of the pollution inspired in Lucien Bronicki a desire to do something about it.
The result is Ormat, dedicated to engineering geo-thermal energy plants ... and producing power from them, in several parts of the world.
The other company involved with alternative energy is Econcern, founded in 1984 by the Dutch Entrepreneur of the Year Ad van Wijk to think about innovative ways of doing different sorts of sustainable energy projects.. and carry them out.
Big ideas these..and the two companies-by no means giants-are both not afraid to get their hands dirty by actually operating the schemes they plan and engineer. As you can hear.

Contributors to the programme:

Ad van Wijk, Founder and Chairman, Econcern

Lucien Bronicki, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer
Dita Bronicki, Chief Executive Officer