The Department of Energy is awarding billions of dollars to companies developing next-generation batteries that can power cars. But one crucial element is in short supply: stations where electric vehicles can recharge.
Though the Energy Department is spending $2.4 billion on developing technology for electric vehicles, very little is for the infrastructure needed to recharge vehicles once they are on the road.
Despite the government money, the industry’s chicken-and-the-egg dilemma remains: Demand for electric cars isn’t likely to take off unless there are convenient ways to recharge batteries. But utilities and service-station operators aren’t likely to spend money on such infrastructure until there are enough cars on the road to make the investment profitable.
“We need domestic supply of cars and batteries. That’s important,” said Ed Kjaer, director of electric transportation for Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International in Rosemead, Calif. “But we also need to get the markets ready for these cars by creating the infrastructure. It’s not ready now and it’s a big concern.”
Oh, and about that $2.4 Billion in research money for batteries. The Washington Times has a good rundown on who gets what. An excerpt:
Nearly half of the $2.4 billion in federal grant money awarded Wednesday to stimulate the U.S. economy and boost the production of hybrid and electric vehicles went to six companies with ties to places as far away as Russia, China, South Korea and France.
President Obama announced the grants during a visit to Indiana and said the funds would create domestic jobs and instigate more “green” manufacturing in the United States. But because so few American companies have the necessary technology, much of the money will initially go toward manufacturing electric vehicle batteries overseas.
Three grants went to General Motors Corp., one for $105.9 million to help produce high-volume battery packs for the GM Volt automobile. But cells for the packs will be built in South Korea and by “other cell providers to be named.”
The largest single grant, for $299.2 million, went to Johnson Controls Inc. for the production of nickel-cobalt-metal battery cells and packs at plants it plans to build in Holland, Mich., and Lebanon, Ore. Johnson has partnered with Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC, a French company, to develop the batteries. Saft, which makes its batteries in France, also won a separate $95.5 million grant.
The rest here.