E&E NEWS — In 2002, a young engineer from India, had an idea. He described it in a patent he later filed in the United States for a design improvement that made small electric motors much more energy-efficient. He had worked on them for 10 years.

Piyush Desai realized his next step—raising the money and support to build it—would be daunting and expensive. But he felt that the growing U.S. awareness of climate change would change things.

Electric motors are everywhere. They are essential to air conditioning, heating, conveyor belts and various types of manufacturing. As the world grows warmer, they now use almost half of the world’s electricity, but their technology has seen few improvements in the last 100 years.

In 2014 Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks, came to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with a proposal. The bank has a huge investment in commercial buildings and knew global warming would make their energy and air conditioning costs soar.

Through its foundation, Wells Fargo began by offering $10 million to help incubate new technology startups that might cut the growing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions from heating and cooling buildings.

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