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At the Zenith of Solar Energy

Israeli energy startup Zenith Solar is pioneering a "concentrated solar power" method that is up to five times more efficient than standard technology

Rooftops all over Israel look strikingly similar: More than 1 million households in the nation of 7.1 million people have solar panels that produce hot water—a relatively simple technology that gained popularity after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, when oil prices shot up sharply. As of the early 1990s, all new residential buildings were required by the government to install solar water-heating systems.

Yet despite Israel's sunny climate and early lead in solar heating, it has been slow in adopting more sophisticated solar technologies that produce electricity from sunlight. Now, with oil hovering above $100 a barrel, a local startup hopes to build on the country's early embrace of sun power to carve out a new clean-energy business.