Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Recharging Michigan
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Recharging Michigan

Robert Downes - January 19th, 2009
We may be down, but we’re not out. Michigan got some great news last week with word that General Motors is planning to open a new battery-pack factoryhere, along with the largest battery lab in the country.
This is an ‘electrifying‘ development; state officials are striving to make Michigan a powerhouse for the batteries which will run the electric cars of tomorrow. “We want to be the battery capital of the world,” Governor Granholm stated in the Detroit Free Press.
To that end, the State Legislature recently passed a bill which will provide $335 million in tax incentives to boost Michigan‘s battery industry.
So what’s the big deal? Plenty. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation estimates that the battery industry could create 50,000 jobs in the state over the next three to five years. The industry will supply vehicles such as the all-electric Chevy Volt, which debuts in 2010.
The Volt is just the beginning. At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, Chinese carmaker BYD unveiled its new electric car which will recharge via a wall plug and sell for $21,700. The car will run 62 miles on a single charge.
That compares well with the Volt, which is expected to cost $35,000, running 40 miles on a charge. But the important thing is, we’re on the brink of an electric car revolution that will -- hopefully -- put the spark back in Michigan manufacturing.
The quest for a better battery is the key to a “green“ future. If you recall, last year, presidential candidate John McCain proposed offering a government prize of $300 million to whoever invented a better battery for electric cars.
That’s because current lithium-ion batteries fall short of our power storage needs. They also have weight, bulk, and toxicity problems.
Whoever designs a more powerful, lightweight battery will literally reinvent the world, not just for automobiles, but for the storage of electrical power on a grand scale for uses such as home-heating.
To that end, Senator Carl Levin is seeking $1 billion in federal grants for U.S. companies to create a better battery and capture the industry.
“We cannot afford to lose the development and production of advanced batteries to other countries that are willing to offer greater financial incentives than we are,” Levin said in a release. “If we offer loans while other countries offer grants, we could lose the battle for green vehicle production to other countries...”
Damn right. Supporting Michigan’s battery industry along with GM’s battery lab and partnership with the University of Michigan is the key to getting our state back on track.
Not only that, but perhaps the salvation of our country and the planet itself.
Consider that the United States imports $400 billion in oil each year from appalling countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq. Wouldn’t it be great to be free of oil dependence?
Then, consider that all of the countries on earth burn more than 85 million barrels of oil per day, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. A breakthrough in battery technology and “green” energy would go a long way toward resolving the problem of global warming.
The manufacturing power of Michigan saved the free world during World War II, when we built the planes and tanks to stop the Nazis and Europe and the forces of Imperial Japan. Perhaps we can rise to the occasion once again -- if we get a jump on being the “battery capital of the world.”


 
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