Biden Highlights Energy, Smart Grid in ARRA Analysis

Vice President Joseph Biden on Aug. 24 released the "The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation," (pdf) an analysis of the impact the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments have had on accelerating the pace of innovation in the United States.

ARRA provided more than $787 billion in funding, with more than $100 billion offered to innovative and transformative program investments. The White House analysis explores investments in transportation, wind and solar energy, broadband, Smart Grid, health information technology, and medical research.

According to the analysis, the United States had only two factories manufacturing advanced vehicle batteries that power electric vehicles and produced less than 2 percent of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries in 2009. ARRA investments in this sector amount to more than $2 billion in advanced battery and electric drive component manufacturing (that is $2 billion in grants to support battery and component manufacturing and $45 million in Section 48C Manufacturing Tax Credits). By 2012, 20 battery manufacturing facilities and 10 electric drive components factories (with the capacity to produce an estimated 20 percent of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries) will exist in the United States, the analysis says.

The analysis notes that the ARRA Section 1603 Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Tax-Credits program is supporting more than 200 megawatts (MW) of solar projects that are delivering power now. This program also has supported more than 100 wind projects in 30 states, producing 5.3 GW of energy.

A combination of ARRA funds and private investments will add 18 million new smart meters to the 8 million currently in use, the analysis says, adding that the U.S. will install more than 875 transmission system sensors that will help prevent minor disturbances from cascading into large outages. Approximately 700 substations will be equipped with automated devices to detect and respond to system irregularities to further avoid outages.

The analysis identifies specific companies and the work they are doing, including:

  • Envia and FastCAP, which are pursuing technologies beyond today’s best lithium-ion batteries;
  • FirstSolar, which is expanding a large manufacturing plant in Perrysburg, Ohio;.
  • Thin-film solar manufacturer Solyndra, which is building a high-tech solar module manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif.;
  • FloDesign in Massachusetts, which is developing a novel shrouded wind turbine design with advanced aerospace technology that should reduce the cost and noise of wind energy, and
  • 1366 Technologies and Semprius, which are developing new approaches to make solar cells less expensive.

The analysis also includes ETEC (doing business as ECOtality North America) and The EV Project as an example of ARRA funding stimulating investment from the private sector and other levels of government to build dynamic infrastructure, support renewable energy adoption and spark job creation, according to a press release from the company.

As the project manager of The EV Project, ECOtality North America is overseeing a $230 million public-private initiative to deploy a rich charging infrastructure. The project is funded in part by $114.8 million in stimulus funds, awarded through a grant from the Department of Energy. By July 2011, The EV Project will deploy nearly 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities across six U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia. The project is expected to create more than 14,800 jobs, according to ECOtality.