The Energy Department (DOE) in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Energy (MOE) and the Israel Innovation Authority, announced $4.8 million for five newly selected energy projects as part of the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program. The approved projects will leverage cost-share for a total project value of $10.5 million in the areas of hydrogen storage, advanced biofuels, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency. The announcement represents the ninth annual selection of BIRD Energy projects, which DOE says promote energy innovation, economic security, and bilateral cooperation.

“The BIRD Foundation has served as a matchmaker to develop partnerships between U.S. and Israeli researchers at the forefront of technology across the industrial spectrum,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “This kind of collaboration will be mutually beneficial and allow both countries to achieve their economic and energy security goals.”

DOE said the announcement builds on the “robust and ongoing cooperation” with MOE under the U.S. Israel Energy Dialogue, which brings together experts from both nations to encourage innovation of sustainable energy technologies, explore the energy-water nexus, and enhance energy cybersecurity.

“Together with the BIRD Foundation we can encourage joint R&D efforts that will contribute significantly to the bright and safe future of our world. We would like even to accelerate and to enhance it, and to expand it in the years to come,” said Israel’s Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz.                              

BIRD Energy began in 2009 as a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Since then, BIRD Energy has funded 37 projects with a total investment of about $30 million, including the five projects announced by DOE. To date, BIRD Energy awardees have attracted more than $200 million in venture capital and other follow-on funding to commercialize clean energy technologies. The program encourages cooperation between Israeli and American companies through funding joint research and development in a range of technologies, including solar, wind, biofuels, energy storage, fuel cells, smart grid, and water and energy efficiency.

According to DOE, BIRD Energy projects address energy challenges and opportunities of interest to both countries, while focusing on commercializing sustainable energy technologies that improve economic competitiveness, create jobs, and support innovative companies.

During the last seven years, four BIRD Energy projects have reached the commercialization stage, including a self-powered wireless sensor for monitoring energy use in buildings, a new enzyme for the production of biodiesel, a utility scale solar concentrated photovoltaic system employing a new active cooling module, and a new system to facilitate wind speed and power output forecasting for wind generation.

Projects that qualify for BIRD Energy funding must include one U.S. and one Israeli company, or a company in one of the countries paired with a university or research institution in the other. The companies must present a project that involves innovation in the area of sustainable and clean energy and is of mutual interest to both countries. After undergoing a rigorous review process, qualified projects must contribute at least 50 percent to project costs and commit to repay up to 150 percent of the grant if the project leads to commercial success.