From a leading Bridge player to a builder of metaphorical bridges across nations, Energix’s CEO, Asa Levinger is a man on a mission. He doesn’t just want to increase the uptake of renewables across the globe (although that is an impressive task in itself). He also hopes that by doing so he can create added value not only for his stockholders, but also to the environment and communities. And who knows, it may even bring peace with Israel’s neighbouring countries.
Still, Levinger is not a dreamer but rather a visionary. He is also an incredibly determined CEO who understands his industry and the benefits it can bring to billions of individuals worldwide. And his arguments are extremely convincing.
Applying flexibility and innovation to ‘complicated’ projects
Take the company’s huge photovoltaic project in Israel’s Neot Hovav, for instance. The first large scale PV project to be connected to the Israel transmission grid and the only one of its kind in the world, Energix Renewable Energies ‘planted’ 400,000 solar panels on polluted soil – a soil which experts predicted would have been unable to sustain plant life for not simply decades, but centuries.
The project was achieved by constructing on top of rehabilitated toxic evaporation pools (storing chemical waste, these pools were one of the harmful environmental hazards in Israel). It was the first time that anything like it had ever been attempted. The unique tailored mounting system Energix used ensured there was no penetration from the polluted soil underneath. The successful result was a total capacity of 37.5MWp and electricity for tens of thousands of Israeli householders and businesses.
Then there was the large Banie Wind Farm project in Poland with its incredibly tight timescales. But Levinger enjoys nothing if not a challenge. Employing plenty of flexibility and creative thinking Energix split the project into phases and financed the initial 50MW phase on its own. In doing so it met the deadline and enjoyed success all round.
In both the Neot Hovav and Banie Wind Farm projects Energix employed its unique ‘fast rider on the elephant’s trail’ strategy. This involves being daring, decisive, quick (yet calculated) and always remaining on track. It’s a strategy which makes the company different from its competitors and sees it achieve where other large renewable energy companies have fallen.
Levinger’s unique skillset for business
Even as a boy, Levinger was employing strategies – albeit for a different purpose. At the age of just 17 he represented his country in an international Bridge tournament then went on to perform in Israel’s national team. This was where he honed his strategising abilities, along with concentration, tactics and clear analytical capabilities.
His academic achievements meanwhile include a BA.Sc in Computer Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and, just four years later, an MBA, majoring in strategic and business development, from the same establishment.
After graduating he worked in R&D within hi-tech start-ups in Israel.
“The work I did in these companies contributed in a major fashion to my current management skills,” he said. “By that I mean the realization that every small detail is important and that it’s important to be able to independently navigate your way towards your goals. Other abilities included being able to think outside the box and to be able to work and study for myself at the same time.”
It wasn’t long before Levinger realised being an engineer wasn’t enough. He wanted to be a core part of the company and a decision maker. Hence the MBA was the next logical step.
Now he was looking for business and management roles. He got them as a VP Business Development in an investment company and later an Executive Assistant to the CEO in Amot Investment Ltd (part of Alony Hetz Group – one of Israel’s biggest real estate companies).
“It was at Amot that I met various solar companies keen to rent Amot’s roofs for PhotoVoltaic (PV) small solar systems,” he said. “At the time renewable energy was still in its infancy stage. I immediately recognized the potential though and become very enthusiastic about what could be achieved from renewable in a business, environmental and social sense.
“Being an autodidact and utilising my skills and knowledge as an engineer, I dived into the PV market, studying it thoroughly. The result was a presentation by me to the owner and CEO of the Alony Hetz Group, Mr Hetz and to the Amot CEO that we should invest in renewable energy by ourselves, and on our own buildings’ rooftops.”
By the age of 32 Levinger had established Energix – Renewable Energies Ltd., which today is valued at more than NIS 1billion.
“The first project undertaken by Energix was in 2009 on an Amot rooftop. I helped develop and construct the PV system with my own hands. It was a real learning process, from finding the right roof, choosing design bids for panels and doing the actual construction work. I truly believe in hard work and in the advantage of getting and knowing every little detail of the business. Because of that, this first project proved the most important milestone for me as Energix CEO.”
Community and environmental focus
Levinger is regularly quoted as saying he believes in finding “the diamond in the rough” of every project. By that he means he will go the extra mile to find the added value it will bring both the local community and its environment.
“I want everyone involved to benefit from the project,” he said. ”With the Banie wind turbine project, for instance, one of my goals was to ensure that every local farmer would look positively at the turbines. This was achieved by improving the economic conditions of the region in terms of providing education scholarships to young students and funding to sports teams. Hundreds of jobs also went to local residents within the community. That is how Energix believes in ‘doing’ renewables. It’s what I call my Triple Win Philosophy. It’s a win for the company, a win for the Community, and a win for the Environment.”
Levinger attributes his company’s success to his team at Energix, with colleagues helping and supporting each other to attain a mutual goal.
“The working environment in Energix is demanding, yet very warm and family like,” he said. “It is very important for me and for the company`s future to create a strong correlation between Energix’ success and its employees and vice versa. Because of this all Energix’ employees are part of an option compensation plan. This binds the success of the company with the employee’s dedication.”
Where are we heading?
Currently, Energix believes that the role of renewable energies is only at the beginning – its tremendous impact has yet to come. America’s target is 33 per cent by 2027 and Denmark’s 100 per cent by 2050. Iceland is already 100 per cent renewable. As for Israel, although a late starter in the renewable field, Israel still expects 17 per cent of its energy to be renewables by 2030.
For summarize Levinger explains: “I`m thrilled to have the opportunity to protect the environment and leave a better globe to the next generation. At Energix we see the growth in renewable here in Israel as an opportunity to co-operate with our neighbours in the Middle East who are eager for more electricity. Bringing renewable to communities could create financial prosperity for them. That is a fundamental way in which to build a bridge to peace.”
For more information on Energix see the website www.energix-group.com