When Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the climate crisis was an all-hands-on-deck moment, she meant it. That’s why we’re tapping into some of the best and brightest minds around the world to develop and deploy clean energy technologies that will create a greener future for people in every corner of the globe.
To build bridges with countries who will help the world achieve net-zero emissions, the United States partnered with Israel to support industrial research and development as part of a collaboration known as BIRD Energy, or the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation Energy Program.
This initiative isn’t just about international cooperation, though. To help both countries develop the solutions needed to advance a global clean energy transition, BIRD Energy, provides funding for initiatives focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, natural gas and energy-water technologies, like hydropower. Innovations, which are selected together by the Department and Israel’s Ministry of Energy, must be close to entering the market so they will create clean energy jobs on both sides of the planet. Since the effort started 12 years ago, it has supported 60 joint U.S.-Israel projects and received more than $100 million in government and private funding.
For participants, this is a unique opportunity to deploy their green technologies on a larger international scale to help fight climate change. With the tools and the resources available to them through the program, they are able to turn their ideas into products that can be used right here at home in the United States, overseas in Israel, or other countries throughout the world. In fact, several BIRD Energy innovations have reached this stage over the past seven years – bringing energy-efficient alternatives directly to consumers.
Putting electricity on ice
Have you ever heard of someone turning ice into an energy saver? Israeli-based company, Nostromo, and Centrica Business Solutions US, Inc. in Bellevue, Washington teamed up to develop IceBrick, which shifts the electricity grid’s peak demand using ice-battery technology for commercial HVAC systems. This new method offers the potential to cut businesses’ power costs and make their buildings more energy-efficient, which is why last April the Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills signed a 20-year agreement with Nostromo to install a 1.5 MWh IceBrick system. Talk about a clean energy solution with a chilling effect!
The bread and butter of energy efficiency
Did you know the food and beverage industry’s compressed air generation for things like cleaning containers before product filling, automated product sorting, and product packaging systems can consume 10-30% of its total electricity use? To address this challenge, EcoPlant Technological Innovation Ltd. in Israel and Atlas Machine and Supply, Inc. out of Louisville, Kentucky are working together to develop a way to optimize this sector’s energy efficiency and improve the reliability of these air systems. The two companies have their sights set on eventually expanding this technology to food and beverage factories, as well, with the goal of helping them produce products in a greener way, potentially saving each business more than $200,000 per year!
Taking charge of our cleaner future
Electric vehicles (EV) are another driving force behind our transition to greener power. In fact, this technology is so important that President Biden made it a point to include funding for more research and development in this area, as well as expanding the availability of the chargers needed to power these cars across the country, in his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law so this transportation will become more easily accessible. To make EVs even more driver-friendly, Chakratec’s (Lod, Israel) and Blink Charging Co.’s (Miami Beach, Florida) are designing chargers that will be able to charge EVs in as quick as 15 minutes! This could be revolutionary for rural areas with weak power grids that need affordable, fast-charging resources for smoother EV adoption, along with high-traffic areas that have limited power grid capacity.
These are just a handful of the many BIRD Energy initiatives helping turn a clean energy transition into reality. Not only are these innovators offering greener solutions to tackle some of the planet’s biggest energy and climate challenges, they are also creating new jobs and providing more affordable renewable power.
And there’s still more to come! Last November, the BIRD Energy Executive Committee met to select six new awardees to receive a total of $5.48 million in funding for new projects that will continue advancing the organization’s mission and pave the way for a cleaner, brighter tomorrow. To learn more about what’s ahead, visit the Department’s website and watch the video below.