My home town of Detroit received great news today when A123 announced plans for a new manufacturing facility to produce energy storage devices in Michigan. This is an excellent example of the green jobs and energy independence that President-elect Barack Obama is pushing for in his economic stimulus package.
The Advanced Battery Manufacturing Facility Creates Green Jobs
At full operation, A123 expects the combined plants would occupy as much as 7 million square feet and create over 14,000 jobs. These plants would produce battery cells and systems to meet the needs of A123’s broad automotive customer portfolio, which currently includes over seven vehicle manufacturers and 19 vehicle models ranging from HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles) to EVs (electric vehicles). Full production volumes are designed to supply battery systems for five million hybrid vehicles or half a million plug-in electric vehicles per year by 2013.
“The prospect for a new advanced battery production facility in Michigan is exactly the kind of hope that our state needs as we work through a deep economic downturn. Domestic production of American developed battery technology is a key step towards enabling the transformation of the automotive industry to produce greener and more efficient vehicles,” said Senator Carl Levin.
Government Support Key to Success
Obama’s team argues that there is a role for government to play in advancing technology. A123 is a great success story. The company was born out of the research labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was funded initially with a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2001. This week A123Systems submitted an application under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program to qualify for $1.84 billion in direct loans to support the construction of the new world-class lithium ion battery manufacturing facilities in the United States.
In November, the Michigan Strategic Fund, an arm of the state’s economic development efforts, approved $10 million in funding for A123’s new plant expansion in Michigan under the fund’s Centers of Energy Excellence program. Michigan lawmakers also approved tax credits worth up to $335 million for battery firms to build manufacturing plants here. The final dollar amount depends on how many battery packs are assembled in the state, production expenses and other factors.
Readers: What do you think of A123? Should government be playing such a key role in supporting next generation technology?
Sources:Detroit Free Press Article, A123 Website