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Joe Biden’s Energy Storage Story

January 28, 2021


I was a on business trip to visit the AMC headquarters in Northern Indiana to discuss converting diesel HMMWVS into electric HMMWVs when I received a call from area code “202”. The Washington DC area code call was interesting and exciting as I had recently submitted a 500-page grant application for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for my employer, EnerDel Inc., a lithium-ion battery manufacturer based in Indianapolis.

I was informed by the Department of Energy representative that EnerDel had won a 118.5 million dollar grant to expand the lithium-ion battery manufacturing base in Indianapolis and I was the Principal Investigator for this massive project. In all, the Obama administration collectively granted $2.4 billion in grants to Accelerate the Manufacturing and Deployment of the Next Generation of U.S. Batteries and Electric Vehicles (https://www.energy.gov/articles/president-obama-announces-24-billion-grants-accelerate-manufacturing-and-deployment-next) and Vice President Biden was in charge of the rollout.

As one can image, we were excited, Indiana was excited, and we got the ball rolling extremely fast. The win accelerated business development substantially and EnerDel subsequently won a $40 million contract to provide back up energy for snow making equipment for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I managed the certification process (not fun), which involved going to Moscow in the middle of January (average high of 23 F). While in Russia, I received a call from another unknown “202” caller. On the other end of the line was a Vice President Biden’s office calling me (in Russia) to schedule a visit to our factory in Indianapolis. I was thrilled! I secretly hoped that the KGB followed me the rest of the trip, but I left unmolested.

Subsequently, VP Biden visited our facility, gave a rousing speech and in short order, Ener 1 went bankrupt.

This is all to say that VP Biden has been pushing energy storage for about as long as my career and it looks like he will continue to push energy storage, renewables and massive climate initiatives in the foregoing future.

Energy storage has grown tremendously since I was shivering in Moscow and making plans with the VP’s surrogates to visit Indiana. Even though many of the companies financed by the ARRA did not end up being major players, the investment pushed the technology into affordability and encouraged a whole generation of engineers and business leaders to recognize energy storage as a required industry.

You can see energy storage market growth just by looking at the latest projections. According to Lux Research, “by 2035, the total energy storage market will grow to $546 billion in annual revenue and 3,046 GWh in annual deployments. Mobility remains the long-term driver of energy storage annual revenue and demand, with a 2035 total market share of 74% by annual revenue and 91% by demand. Meanwhile, the stationary storage market will surpass the electronic devices market in 2023, when we project it will become a $30 billion industry of 52 GWh in installations.”

I would argue that President Obama’s and then Vice President Biden’s focus on developing the energy storage supply chain has been a major factor in these growths. I was personally affected by this focus to the point that I am now positioned as a known industry expert.

There is no indication that President Biden will slow down his enthusiasm for energy storage. According to https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/, the President is fully in favor of moving forward on making energy storage a part of the energy landscape and he has committed to de-carbonizing the grid by 2035, which requires energy storage. He strongly states his commitment by stating his desire to “marshal an historic investment in energy efficiency, clean energy, electrical systems and line infrastructure that makes it easier to electrify transportation, and new battery storage and transmission infrastructure that will address bottlenecks and unlock America’s full clean energy potential – built by American workers, using American-made materials.”

I for one am excited to see a President focused on the needs for renewables in general and specifically for energy storage as a required driver in fossil fuel reduction. We at Cleantech Law Partners will keep focused on this and provide periodic legislative updates on all energy storage matters. Please contact me at jbutler@cleantechlaw.com if you have any questions.

Original content by James “Casey” butller
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