Bryan Medwed (1957-2002) Arava Energy Pioneer
Bryan Medwed, a member of Kibbutz Samar, was a tireless advocate for the promotion of renewable energy in the Arava region. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he relocated with his wife Ilene to the southern Arava in 1984 where he led an agricultural life, working first in the mango orchard and then in the dates.
After years of working outside in the burning sun, Medwed began to wonder why the Arava does not utilize its solar resources, and spent the next 10 years studying, developing, and promoting various renewable energy initiatives. In 1992 he initiated the Sunergy Project, whose aim was to construct a 200 kW photovoltaic plant that would meet Kibbutz Samar's electricity needs and supply additional power to the regional grid, (and built a 5 kW prototype which is still in use today). He took out a patent application on a new type of solar collector, started a kibbutz enterprise to design and build solar power systems, and worked as a technician and researcher at the National Solar Energy Center at Sde Boker, where he co-authored several papers and made oral presentations at a number of conferences. In 1999 he joined with solar advocates from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to develop the Solar Bridges for Peace program, which sought to develop sustainable communities in each of these four locations.
Medwed soon expanded his interest in solar energy to include exploring other types of renewable energy endeavors, including a research project involving growing elephant grass for biomass energy production, traveling to Holland to study Wind Farm management, and collecting data on wind patterns in the Arava. He designed and installed a PV wind-powered refrigerator in order to store insulin for a Bedouin child stricken with diabetes, and developed a solar system to run a medical clinic in the village of Wadi Na'am.
In 2002, Bryan was killed in an automobile accident while on his way to deliver wind turbines to a Bedouin village in the Negev.
Bryan Medwed was the first one in the Arava region to advance the development of renewable energy using the rich natural resources of the area. The huge interest and development in the field of renewable energy in the region today is a realization of his dream.