Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Politics of Energy #11 - Grants aim to rev up alternative-vehicle technology

Editor's Note: The U.S. federal government is announcing huge grants to develop electric vehicles, but as the U.S. Department of Energy points out, more than 50% of the nation's electricity is produced by burning coal. The coal industry has been excluded from federal stimulus spending. Why? Over the next 20 years natural gas will become the dominent choice for new electric plants. This is the reality - we are switching from oil to coal and natural gas and they are all three fossil fuels.

By Jeff Karoub
Associated Press (MercuryNews.com)

DETROIT — President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials took to separate stages nationwide Wednesday to announce $2.4 billion in federal grants to develop next-generation electric vehicles and batteries.

It was a dramatic way for the president's team to jump-start the biggest bet yet on a future free from — or at least far less dependent on — fossil fuels. Biden made the case from the home of the hard-hit U.S. auto industry.

"The ultimate success of electric cars relies on better batteries, better drivetrains, reducing carbon emissions, making alternative energy more available," Biden told a crowd of about 300 in Detroit outside NextEnergy, a nonprofit that works with businesses on research involving alternative and renewable energy. "If we fail to invest, virtually none of that market will be in the U.S.''The grants will be split among nearly 50 projects in 25 states, with the biggest shares going to Indiana and Michigan to create job opportunities in the automotive industry. No California companies made the cut, disappointing at least two Silicon Valley firms that had applied — Palo Alto's Better Place, and Imara, a Menlo Park lithium-ion battery maker.

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