The progress of advanced batteries got the attention of President Obama in yesterday's State of Union address. America's potential "to be the world's leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries" is one of the reasons to be optimistic about the future of the United States' manufacturing sector.
Innovative companies are responding to a number of marketplace demands with technologies to power our vehicles, improve electric reliability, gain efficiency, and increase the value of renewable energy on the grid. Battery manufacturers are hiring workers and putting all sorts of new products on the market, building incredible momentum for the industry. We can capitalize on this momentum with a careful balance of the right public policies.
Many components comprise an energy storage system and some of the materials used in energy storage technologies are classified as "rare earths," materials that globally are tough to find in quantities than can be economically mined and processed. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, no rare earth mine production occurs in the U.S. Policy needs to encourage the restart of the American rare earth industry and ensure that we have fair access to foreign rare earth supplies.
Research and development on energy storage technologies and rare earth materials conducted by the Department of Energy stand to benefit the energy storage industry and many others and therefore must be supported.
Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) STORAGE Act offers tax credits for investment in energy storage technologies in residential, commercial, and utility applications. It is targeted, limited, and both technology- and application-neutral.
With all that is going on in the realm of energy storage, our country's leaders are correct to take notice.