GE awards Israeli startup $100,000 ‘Ecomagination’ grant

Pythagoras Solar creates windows that protect against solar radiation and produce useable energy, CEO says.

Solar Panels 311 (photo credit: bloomberg)
Solar Panels 311
(photo credit: bloomberg)
An Israeli solar company that employs windows to both block solar radiation and harness energy from the sun has received a $100,000 grant from General Electric and partners’ “Ecomagination” program, the corporation announced this weekend.
The company, called Pythagoras Solar, is one of five firms to win an Innovation Award from the program’s “Powering Your Home” challenge, in which GE invested $63 million this round and also provided sizeable awards to 10 commercial partners in addition to the smaller firms. Currently in its second year, the challenge has now provided a total of $200 million worth of funds to 22 commercial corporations and 10 startups in total, with an aim of “accelerating the global development of clean energy technologies,” the corporation said. A panel of independent judges selected the winners and included Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson, executives from GE and academics leaders from the field, according to a statement from the company.
“We knew that GE recognized that this technology could have a huge impact on the way buildings are being built,” co-founder and CEO of Pythagoras Solar, Golan Fink, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“This is the part of the award that we are most happy about and feel good about the validation and feedback we have.” Pythagoras, established by Golan Fink and partner Dr.Itay Baruchi in 2007, employs a technology called “Building Integrated Photovoltaics,” which aims to achieve “netzero buildings” in terms of energy consumption.
“The windows themselves include a combination of optical devices and solar cells,” Fink explained. “The unique thing about this combination is that the optical device manipulates sunlight so that instead of getting into the room, the direct radiation is used for generating clean solar energy. It produces energy and also shades the room.” While the company currently has five pilots running – three in the United States and two in Israel – the most longrunning trial has been going on now for six months at the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, according to Fink.
“The Sears Tower itself is looking at the project as part of retrofitting the building,” he said. “Even though Chicago is not the best place for concentrated solar energy, it still suffers from getting too much heat.
“We are looking for this to be the greenest building in the US,” he continued.
They wanted to evaluate this technology because of its unique combination of solar power generation and energy efficiency.” Pythagoras is also in the process of evaluating several potential projects in China, Fink added.
“There is a lot of construction happening in China, and they are not on the forefront of energy efficiency,” he said.
“There are some projects there that are moving more and more toward the green construction industry.” While the company is currently in the process of developing a type of window that would be more appropriate for residential locations, Fink said that the current models – which will hit commercial markets in the US by the end of this year – are better suited for larger buildings at the moment.
“It’s more relevant for buildings with significant amount of glass,” he said, noting, however, that the building need not be as tall as the Sears Tower.
“The current product is less applicable for residential windows because you need a large surface of glass to make this economical.” Fink added that the company hopes to move to marketing larger volumes of installations by next year.
In addition to Pythagoras Solar, the other four startup winners this year were British firm E.quinox for its renewable energy in developing countries, as well as American companies PlotWatt for its smart meter analysis, Suntulit for its climate control systems and Xergy for its green refrigeration systems, according to GE.
GE’s decision to include the Israeli firm among its winners comes just shortly after the corporation opened a multidisciplinary research and development center in Israel, where it will host local projects in medical technologies, clean energy and water – with the hopes of advancing technology by partnering with Israeli companies and academics, the corporation said.