Tag Archives: batteries

More "Green Energy" Boondoggles

What do we taxpayers get for “only” $249 million? A battery company that has to replace the batteries that it has already delivered. A123 Systems of Waltham, MA, received $249 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to build the plant, located in Livonia , MI, as part of a strategy to bring battery manufacturing to the U.S.

The grant A123 received is part of a $2.4 billion DOE program, which will be matched by $2.4 billion in private investment, and will go to battery and component suppliers as well as the big US automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The “Big 3″ received over $400 million for manufacturing and to test the performance of electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt. Let’s see… Chrysler went bankrupt, killing its electric car and costing us $70 million, and we all know how successful the Chevy Volt is. Can DOE pick ’em, or what?

A123 Systems will spend $55 million replacing defective batteries it manufactured. The announcement was the latest setback for A123 that reported earlier this month that it lost $85 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, largely because Fisker Automotive had ordered fewer battery packs than previously expected. Fisker is one of A123 Systems’ largest customers. Yes, that is the same Fisker that received a $529 million loan from DOE, only to have it pulled after Fisker has already spent $190 million. And, yes, the cause of a $107,000 Fisker Karma shutting down in Consumer Reports tests is associated with A123’s defective batteries.

The $55 million battery replacement has had an effect on the A123 stock price, trading at $1.27 per share as of March 27, 2012, a new 52 week low. It was trading at over $25 per share as recently as 2009. A123 lost a net $172 million over the first three quarters of 2011 and has yet to see a profit. A Deutsche Bank analyst wrote: “We no longer have enough confidence that (A123) can raise sufficient capital (without massive equity dilution) and/or continue to augment their book to future business. Recent quality issues may lead to concerns over (A123’s) ability to manufacture with quality at high volumes, potentially leading to customer defections or at least difficulty in procuring new contracts.”

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) once said A123 was a federal stimulus “success story.” Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited A123 headquarters and hailed it as a “great example of how Recovery Act funding is helping American companies.”

Meanwhile, A123’s Compensation Committee approved a $30,000 raise (from $350,000 to $380,000) for CFO David Prystash just days after Fisker Automotive announced that DOE cut off what was left of its $528.7 million loan it had previously received. Further, Jason Forcier, vice president of the automotive solutions group, was raised from $331,250 to $350,000.

BTW, A123 Systems President and CEO David Vieau has contributed at least $14,900 to Democrat candidates and groups since 2007. And it has spent at least $730,000 lobbying Congress on federal issues pertaining to the batteries they produce.

Again, I have to say: “Can DOE pick ’em, or what?”

But that’s just my opinion.

Yet Another "Green Energy" Company Goes Bankrupt

Today, January 27, 2012, we learn that Ener1, the owner of a company that received $118.5 million from the Department of Energy (DOE), filed for bankruptcy protection after defaulting on bond debt. EnerDel, the company that Ener1 owns, makes electric-car batteries. Ener1, based in New York, makes lithium-ion batteries for plug-in electric cars. Under President Barack Hussein Obama’s stimulus program, DOE awarded grants to Ener1, trying to create a US electric-car industry. Ener1’s EnerDel unit, based in Indianapolis, IN, was the DOE grant recipient. “DOE’s grant to EnerDel is supporting a cutting edge battery manufacturing plant that is producing batteries in America that are being sold across the country and around the world,” said Jen Stutsman, spokesperson for DOE.

Vice President Joe Biden toured the Ener1 plant, located in Greenfield, IN, in January, 2011. Biden believed the loan still seemed like a good idea at the time, since Obama was pushing to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and needed electric batteries to do so. “We know what’s coming – you don’t have to be a fortune-teller to see where the automobile industry has to go,” Biden told Ener1 employees last year. “So why not? Why not have it made in America? That’s why we went out there and came up with $2.4 billion for battery technology.” Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, recalled Biden’s visits to and the failures of Solyndra and Beacon Power in 2011. “One bankruptcy may be a fluke, two could be coincidence, but three is a trend,” said Stearns.

In June, 2011, Think Global, an Oslo, Norway, electric car manufacturer, and Ener1’s largest customer, filed for bankruptcy. It has since been a uphill battle for Ener1, which was delisted from NASDAQ in December, 2011. For Think Global, it was the fourth financial economic collapse in its 20-year history. Think North American, a subsidiary of Think Global, has an electric vehicle (EV) production plant in Elkhart, Indiana. But Obama and Biden, despite Think Global’s economic history, still had DOE give Ener1 taxpayer money.

Obama said in his State of the Union address that he would not “cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.” Well, he may have to make the cessation because we taxpayers are really tired of his cronies and favorite ideas getting DOE grants, loans, and loan guarantees.

Further, there is a “Catch 22″ with EVs. If EVs ever achieve a meaningful percentage of the vehicles on the road, how will they be powered? Not, without large subsidies, from windmills or solar panels. Coal, which still accounts for most of our electrical capacity, has the same CO2 and greater particulate emissions as gasoline. Because of inefficiencies in generating and transporting electricity, far more energy has to be consumed to power a car electrically than to produce the same amount of power with an internal combustion engine. Batteries are an intractable problem. Despite predictions of progress in battery technology, all known battery technologies are very limited in the amount of energy that can be stored, compared to the amount of energy a tank of gasoline can provide. There is no reason to foresee a breakthrough new technology, and engineering

Electric cars have been around for over a century (does anyone remember the 1909 Baker Electric?). There is good reason that they have never taken over more than minor niches. Squandering government money on this technology is negligent at best, and is fast becoming criminal.

But that’s just my opinion.

Smart Phone & Laptop Batteries Re-Charged in 15 Minutes & Last One Week

It’s not just a dream, it may soon be reality.

We’ve all been caught short… of power that is… Running around like a Neanderthal in ‘Quest for Fire’ looking for an Outlet before our phone or laptop crashed.

A group of scientists at Northwestern University may have found a way to poke millions of holes in one of the layers of the battery (Physics… can’t live with it, can’t live without it, still don’t understand it). Anyhow, it’s still a little bit out in the future and the batteries using this technique will only last about one year, but if you only had to charge them one tenth as much it might be worth it.


Read All About It: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15735478