The Obama Administration believes in electric and hybrid vehicles, not just as a mode of transportation but also as an impetus for research and development, U.S. leadership in “clean energy,” and a new “green workforce.”
Prospects for the industry are promising. Crain’s Detroit Business reports “Powered by batteries: Holland area vies to be national hub for lithium-ion manufacturing,” describing the scene along a two-mile stretch of 48th Street in rural Holland (that’s western Michigan).
Battery Boulevard terminates in two new operations: The Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions Meadowbrook plant and the LG Chem Ltd. factory, still under construction. There’s Trans-Matic Manufacturing Co., which makes deep-drawn metal canisters, TUV SUD America, a supplier of battery testing equipment. Forty miles north, there’s the Swiss-German manufacturer, Fortu PowerCell Inc.
“It’s no longer what can be — we’re not just looking at cornfields now,” says Randy Thelen, president of Lakeshore Advantage in Zeeland, a grassroots organization credited with helping bring battery manufacturing to the Holland area. “We are looking at steel going up in the air and parking lots filled with people working at the plant, as well as contractors.”
Not bad for an industry that didn’t even exist three years ago in America — or anywhere else, for that matter.
“For all intents and purposes, the lithium-ion battery industry for transportation purposes did not exist globally anywhere three years ago,” said Eric Shreffler, sector development director of advanced energy storage for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Yes. Not bad at all.
So why, oh why, is the Executive Branch considering regulations that would make air shipment of lithium-ion batteries more slow and expensive, damaging the nascent U.S. industry’s global competitiveness and negating one of the Administration’s signature initiatives? (continue reading…)