Recovery Act has bolstered energy technology, VP Biden says

US says act will advance solar power, battery development, renewable energy

Vice President Joe Biden this week showed off a 50-page report that claimed, among myriad other benefits, the $100B Recovery Act has significantly advanced energy technology, science and technology.

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For example the report entitled: "The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation," claims the act has already produced three major breakthroughs in energy and one in health sciences.  From the report:

 1.Cutting the cost of solar power in half between by 2015: The cost of power from rooftop solar panels will drop from $0.21 per kWh in 2009 to $0.10 per kWh in 2015, which is equivalent to typical household electricity rates.  The cost of power from utility-scale solar projects would drop from $0.13 per kWh today to $0.06 in 2015, which is equivalent to the cost of wholesale utility power.  Further, the cost of rooftop solar power could drop to as low as $0.06 per kWh by 2030. At that cost, solar power will be significantly cheaper than household electricity rates - and an average household could save more than $400 per year in electricity bills.

2.Cutting the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 70% between 2009 and 2015: The cost of batteries for the typical all-electric vehicle will fall from $33,000 to $10,000, and the cost of typical plug-in hybrid batteries will drop from $13,000 to $4,000. Already, electric vehicles are becoming more affordable and accessible. In 2009, the only available electric-drive vehicle cost more than $100,000. Soon, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, starting at $25,000 and $33,000 respectively, will be available.  Over $2.4 billion in Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loans to Fisker, Nissan, and Tesla are supporting three of the world's first electric car factories in Delaware, Tennessee, and California, respectively.  In addition the weight of a typical electric-vehicle battery is forecasted to decrease by 33%, from 333 kilograms to 222 kilograms, by 2015. The lighter battery means a lighter car, which means less energy is needed to power the car.  Finally, a typical battery is expected to last 14 years in 2015 - more than three times as long as the current 4-year lifetime.

 3.Doubling U.S. renewable energy generation capacity and U.S. renewable manufacturing capacity by 2012: Over $23 billion of Recovery Act investments support renewable energy. Specifically, these goals mean that we will:  Double renewable energy capacity from the 28.8 GW of solar, wind, and geothermal generation that has been installed as of 2008, to 57.6 GW by the end of 2011. That's enough capacity to power 16.7 million homes.  Double renewable energy manufacturing capacity from an annual output of 6 GW of renewable equipment (like wind turbines or solar panels) to 12 GW by the end of 2011. This will increase the U.S. share of global manufacturing of solar photovoltaic modules from 8% of all production, to 14% by 2012.

4.Bringing down the cost of a personal human genome map to under $1,000 in five years: Today, with the help of the Recovery Act, the National Institutes of Health are on track to slash the cost of DNA sequencing to $1,000 per genome - fifty times cheaper than what is currently possible.  With a more affordable price tag, DNA information could become a routine part of medical care.

Some other facts from the report:

  • A combination of act funds and private investments will add 18 million new smart electric meters to the eight million currently in use. To improve system reliability, the Recovery Act will install more than 875 transmission system sensors that can alert system operators and help prevent minor disturbances from cascading into large outages. Finally, for further system reliability, Recovery Act funds will help equip approximately 700 substations with automated devices to detect and respond to system irregularities, thereby helping to avoid power outages.
  • In 2009, the US had two factories manufacturing advanced vehicle batteries and produced less than two percent of the world's advanced vehicle batteries. By 2012, thanks in part to the Recovery Act, the 30 factories will be online. By 2015, when these factories reach scale, they will have the capacity to produce enough batteries and components to support up to 500,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. As of August 18, 2010, the Department of Commerce has invested $2.78 billion in broadband networks across the country. This includes investments of $125 million in public computing, and $157 million in sustainable adoption programs that include digital literacy training and outreach campaigns.
  • By increasing the amount of broadband capacity to communities throughout the country and increasing the number of people who recognize the value of and can use high-speed Internet, the Recovery Act is laying the foundation for greater economic opportunities.

 Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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