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President Obama Awards $2.3 Billion Tax Credits for Cleantech Jobs

Recovery Act Tax Credits enable $7 Billion in New Manufacturing Projects

President Obama announced on January 8 the award of $2.3 billion in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy manufacturing projects across the United States. 183 projects in 43 states will create tens of thousands of high quality clean energy jobs and the domestic manufacturing of electric cars, solar, wind, and energy efficiency.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” said President Obama. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.” These credits are also an important step towards meeting the President’s goal of doubling the amount of renewable energy the country uses in the next three years with wind turbines and solar panels built right here in the United States.

The President identified that this initiative is also important “To reduce our dangerous dependency on foreign oil….This initiative will close the clean energy gap with other nations.” He cited China and Germany as competing for wind, solar, and energy efficiency jobs.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said, “The awards announced today, together with the more than $5 billion in private sector capital spurred by our investment, will drive significant growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors, good jobs, an energized private sector marketplace and a leadership role for the U.S. in these crucial high-growth markets.”

The investment tax credits, worth up to thirty percent of each planned project, will leverage private capital for a total investment of nearly $7.7 billion in high-tech manufacturing in the United States.

Cleantech Job Creation Projects

Electric Cars – $17 million for Think North America will establish a U.S. manufacturing operation/facility in Indiana. Think has delivered thousands of battery-electric vehicles in Europe. Think is 30 percent owned by American lithium battery maker EnerDel.

Smart Grid – $5 million for Itron whose OpenWay CENTRON meter is one of the first smart meters for the residential market providing built-in, two-way communications and a remote on/off switch which will give customers more choice and enable utilities to provide higher reliability at lower cost. The expansion of manufacturing capacity in their facility in South Carolina will allow an annual production of four million meters.

Building Efficiency and Energy Management – W.L. Gore is producing an advanced membrane for high efficiency fuel cells for buildings and vehicles. The company’s products can help enable lower-cost fuel cells for use in electric vehicles or to power homes and businesses. They are also manufacturing an advanced turbine filter to improve the performance of gas turbines to produce greater outputs at lower cost and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

LED Lighting – Cree received $39 million for purchasing new equipment to add capacity and capability to lower production costs of LED chips and fixtures. LED lighting technologies represent a new source of high efficiency lighting.

Fuel Efficiency – PPG Industries will produce a special tire tread component that reduces rolling resistance and improves fuel economy. PPG tax credits will also provide for manufacturing of one of the critical components of glass solar cells, the transparent conductive oxide (TCO) coatings of the glass,.

Solar Energy – $142 million for Hemlock Semiconductor will expand a manufacturing plant that produces polycrystalline-silicon used in the production of solar panels. $43 million for Nanosolar to produce tools for the manufacturing of low-cost, low-GHG emission solar cells, using nanotechnology-enabled roll-to-roll processes. $10 million for Miasole to manufacture Solar PV Cells and modules based on an innovative thin-film production technology. $16 million for First Solar will expand its manufacturing facility to produce fully completed thin-film solar modules.

Wind Energy – TPI Composites. is building a new manufacturing facility in Nebraska to produce next generation wind turbine blades. TPI says the facility will create over 200 new jobs and will have a capacity equivalent to supplying 265 turbines rated at 2.5 MW for a total electrical output of 663 MW. TPI will also be expanding their existing manufacturing facility in Iowa. TPI’s composite materials are also used for lighter, stronger, and more fuel efficient vehicles. $52 million for world-leader Vestas to expand U.S. turbine blade production.

Nuclear – Alstom received $63 million to establish a new turbine manufacturing facility designed to manufacture the world’s largest steam turbines, with unit output up to 1700 MW. The new facility will focus on turbines used in advanced nuclear power plants, retrofitting existing turbines in nuclear power plants with higher efficiency technologies, turbines in new hydro power plants, and retrofitting existing turbines in hydro power plants with higher efficiency technologies.

183 Cleantech Projects in 43 States

While projects selected for this tax credit generally must be placed in service by 2014, approximately 30 percent of them will be completed in 2010.

The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit authorized Treasury to provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30 percent for facilities that manufacture particular types of energy equipment. Qualifying manufacturers will produce solar, wind, and geothermal energy equipment; fuel cells, microturbines, and batteries; electric cars; electric grids to support the transmission of renewable energy; energy conservation technologies; and equipment that captures and sequesters carbon dioxide or reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

“The world urgently needs to move toward clean energy technologies, and the United States has the opportunity to lead in this new industrial revolution,” said DOE Secretary Chu.

Ener1 Takes Stake in Electric Vehicle Maker Think Global

Ener1 (HEV) took the lead among a group of investors that plans to inject $47 million of equity funding into Think Global AS, the Norwegian electric vehicle producer. Ener1 effectively expands its existing 10 percent stake to a 31 percent stake in Think. Ener1 is the parent company of EnerDel, a leading manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion automotive battery systems and an existing supplier to Think.

Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer stated, “Ener1 and Think have collaborated for years on systems development, and today possess a unique ability to bring together category-leading technologies in a fully integrated platform, to suit a wide variety of vehicle applications.” Ener1 appears to be pursuing a business model similar to Bosch Automotive and Magna (MGA). Gassenheimer added, “As a key battery supplier and now partner in the production and marketing of electric drivetrain solutions for a range of next-generation vehicles, Ener1 looks forward to a strong future relationship with this industry leader.”

EnerDel and Think have also agreed to enter into a new long-term battery supply agreement as part of the transaction. EnerDel will receive certain exclusivity rights for the supply of lithium manganese titanate batteries for Think’s current and upcoming new vehicle models.

“This investment cements our partnership with one of the leading advanced battery manufacturers in the world,” said Think CEO Richard Canny. “In addition to ensuring supply of high-performance battery systems, the new deal will enable us to more fully capitalize on our advantage in the marketplace with the only ‘plug-and-play’ electric vehicle drive system with prismatic lithium-ion technology.”

Ener1 develops and manufactures compact, high performance lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles. In addition to the automobile market, applications for Ener1 lithium-ion battery technology include the military, grid storage and other growing markets.

Ener1 also develops commercial fuel cell products through its EnerFuel subsidiary and nanotechnology-based materials and manufacturing processes for batteries and other applications through its NanoEner subsidiary.

Think is a pioneer in electric vehicles, and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 19 years. Think is also a leader in electric drive-system technology, and was the first to market a ‘plug and play’ mobility solution in the business-to-business sector.

The equity funding allows financially struggling Think to exit court protection and resume normal operations with the production of the ready-to-market TH!NK City.
Also participating in Think’s restructuring is Valmet Automotive, a provider of automotive engineering and manufacturing services of premium cars. In 40 years the company has produced over 1,100,000 high-quality vehicles in Finland. Valmet Automotive manufactures Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman for Porsche AG. The manufacturing of Fisker Karma hybrid vehicle starts in 2009. The company is a part of Metso.

Diversifying into system integration around a technology platform is an intelligent strategy for Ener 1 who faces tough competition from battery giants who have joint ventures and strategic relationships with major auto makers. Competition includes Panasonic, Hitachi, NEC, LG Chem, and Johnson Controls-Saft.

By John Addison. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.