Energy Ministry directs $6.3 million in grants for 16 energy storage prototypes

Among the selected projects: Solar-driven hydrogen production, ‘kosher’ batteries to power a yeshiva on the Sabbath, and ice bricks that store energy for cooling systems

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Nostromo's Icebrick system for energy storage based on modular ice cells for commercial and industrial buildings. (Nostromo)
Nostromo's Icebrick system for energy storage based on modular ice cells for commercial and industrial buildings. (Nostromo)

Solar-driven hydrogen production, “kosher” batteries to power a yeshiva on the Sabbath and holidays, ice bricks that store energy and then release it into cooling systems, and a combined solar panel and storage system for Bedouin farmers were among 16 projects to receive part of an overall NIS 20 million ($6.3 million) grant to develop energy storage tech, the Energy Ministry announced Tuesday.

The sum of NIS 11.7 million ($3.7 million) was awarded for 11 lithium battery projects, with NIS 4.3 million ($1.35 million) going to two initiatives in hydrogen. A further three projects were allocated NIS 4 million ($1.3 million).

All the recipients will create prototypes in Israel.

Israel has set a goal of generating 30% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. But such energy cannot be relied upon unless some of it is stored for days when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

To address this issue, Nostromo Energy has developed a storage system called the IceBrick, which, unlike lithium, does not use any toxic or rare earth materials. It stores cold thermal energy in the form of ice capsules, releasing it for cooling during peak electricity periods.

It will now pilot the integration of its technology into a cooling plant at Soroka Hospital in southern Israel, where air conditioning accounts for around 40% of the electricity bill.

Separately, EDF Renewables Israel, part of the French utility EDF Group, which last week opened its 22nd solar energy field in Israel, at Timna near Eilat, will provide a “major yeshiva in Bnei Brak,” near Tel Aviv, with a lithium battery system to replace a polluting diesel fuel generator currently used on Sabbaths and holidays when observant Jews are forbidden to igniting electricity.

In addition, Phinergy, which combines oxygen from ambient air with metals — aluminum for energy generation and zinc for energy storage — is linking up with Doral Energy to provide storage at one of the latter’s renewable energy facilities at Kibbutz Maale Gilboa near Beit She’an in northern Israel.

Last week, the Times of Israel reported that energy storage company Augwind, which uses water to compress air in underground chambers, signed an agreement with the Israel Electricity Corporation to build the first facility of its kind in the world, in Dimona, in southern Israel.

One of Augwind’s polymer air batteries at Kibbutz Yahel in southern Israel, December 15, 2021. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

Another company, Enersol, will be using its Energy Ministry grant to create a prototype of compressed air tanks 100 meters (330 feet) under the surface of the sea.

The Energy Ministry is currently piloting agro-voltaic systems, prior to drafting regulations. These consist of PV (photovoltaic) panels, also known as solar panels, mounted over crop fields that facilitate crop growth and generate electricity at the same time.

Yet another Israeli company, Agri-Light Systems, will be erecting a combined agri-voltaic and storage facility at fields cultivated by Bedouin in southern Israel. There, many Bedouin use solar panels that are not connected to the electricity grid, along with unregulated storage facilities. The pilot seeks to reduce the number of distribution lines and unregulated panels and storage facilities while also cutting electricity costs.

In addition, several companies have been chosen to pioneer different forms of Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers, among them a government company, Energy Infrastructures Ltd.

Focusing on transportation and industry, the company will establish a pilot industrial site where solar energy fires the process of creating hydrogen (so-called green hydrogen).

Both hydrogen and batteries will be employed to store the energy for uses such as EV charging.

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