As the Biden regime attempts to force the Democrats' radical 'green' agenda on the country, the task would have been much easier -- and far more affordable -- if our government hadn't given away breakthrough battery technology to the Chinese Communists.
According to an amazingly detailed investigative report by NPR, a decade ago, a group of engineers and researchers who met at a Mukilteo, Wash. warehouse understood that they had developed something amazing: Batteries the size of refrigerators that a) produced enough energy to power entire homes; and b) would last for decades.
The clean energy breakthrough, called "a vanadium redox flow battery," was "based on a design created by two dozen U.S. scientists at a government lab," NPR reported. "The engineers pictured people plunking them down next to their air conditioners, attaching solar panels to them, and everyone living happily ever after off the grid."
One of the project engineers, Chris Howard, who worked at the site for a U.S. firm called UniEnergy, said of the design: "It was beyond promise. We were seeing it functioning as designed, as expected."
But that's not what happened. Instead of the batteries becoming the next great American success story, the warehouse is now shuttered and empty. All the employees who worked there were laid off. And more than 5,200 miles away, a Chinese company is hard at work making the batteries in Dalian, China.
The Chinese company didn't steal this technology. It was given to them — by the U.S. Department of Energy. First in 2017, as part of a sublicense, and later, in 2021, as part of a license transfer. An investigation by NPR and the Northwest News Network found the federal agency allowed the technology and jobs to move overseas, violating its own licensing rules while failing to intervene on behalf of U.S. workers in multiple instances.
Now, China has forged ahead, investing millions into the cutting-edge green technology that was supposed to help keep the U.S. and its economy out front.
According to the report, the U.S. Dept. of Energy is 'looking into' the licensing of vanadium battery technology and how or if that license, as well as others, was a violation of U.S. manufacturing requirements.
One American firm, Forever Energy, located in Bellevue, Wash., is one of several other U.S. companies that tried to get a license from the DOE to start making the batteries domestically. But so far, no luck: Joanne Skievaski, Forever Energy's chief financial officer, said she's been trying to obtain a manufacturing license for more than a year, while calling the department's decision to authorize foreign manufacturing "mind-boggling."
"This is technology made from taxpayer dollars," Skievaski said. "It was invented in a national lab. (Now) it's deployed in China, and it's held in China. To say it's frustrating is an understatement."
The concept of a vanadium redox battery was developed in 2006 at a government facility called the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is about three hours southeast of Seattle. "...[M]ore than two dozen scientists began to suspect that a special mix of acid and electrolyte could hold unusual amounts of energy without degrading. They turned out to be right," NPR reported.
Over the course of about six years, at a cost of around $15 million supplied by taxpayers, the researchers managed to come up with the perfect recipe for vanadium batteries. While others had developed similar mixes, the one used by the scientists at the government lab was twice as powerful and did not degrade over short periods of time like cellphone batteries and even car batteries. They found that their solution and technique produced batteries that could recharge and stay powerful for around three decades.
But our compromised government gave away the technology to our biggest rival. And now, American firms will have to scramble to catch up, if they can, to produce the batteries domestically.
And of course, not a single soul will be held responsible. Pathetic.