Yesterday, Vice President Biden and the Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi were in Midland, MI, to celebrate the groundbreaking of Dow Kokam's 800,000 square foot battery manufacturing factory. This is part of the Summer of Recovery, demonstrating successful Recovery Act projects that are putting Americans back to work in the short term and investing in a clean energy economy. Dow Kokam estimates its project has already created or preserved approximately 100 construction jobs – this will rise to 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction. The bulk of the estimated 800 full time jobs will come in the second half of 2011, when Dow will begin hiring and training permanent employees.
The Dow plant is part of the Recovery Act’s $2 billion investments in advanced battery manufacturing, supporting 20 battery and 10 component manufacturing factories. These include several other Michigan factories including A123, Compact Power, GM, and Johnson Controls. At full scale, the Obama Administration’s investments will support factories with the capacity to supply more than 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric drive vehicles. Dow will build enough batteries to supply 60,000 electric-drive vehicles, scaling up a proven process to build lithium-ion batteries.
These factories, supported by the Recovery Act, are helping build an important domestic industry – the US produced less than 2 percent of the world’s batteries for advanced vehicles in 2008. By the end of 2012, the US is estimated to have the capacity to produce 20 percent of the world’s lithium-ion batteries for vehicles. By 2015, this could be even higher.
The Recovery Act's battery factories are scaling up production, and also lowering costs. By 2013, these factories will help cut battery costs in half – making electric drive vehicles much more affordable for Americans. Additional Administration investments in cutting edge research projects, led by the Energy Department, will continue this type of innovation well beyond 2015, providing a long-term path for a competitive industry.
Matt Rogers is Senior Advisor to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu for Recovery Act Implementation