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National Lab, Investment Fund to Support Battery Companies

Lightning strike (Les Chatfield/Flickr)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CalCEF, a not-for-profit group in San Francisco supporting clean energy technologies, unveiled a program called CalCharge to help new energy storage companies. CalCEF has two divisions, the California Clean Energy Fund and CalCEF Innovations that designs business models, financial products, and public policies to foster clean energy.

CalCharge aims to help battery companies through the commercialization and market adoption phases. The public-private partnership is expected to provide technology assistance, workforce training, and market education. Berkeley Lab will make available to CalCharge members its scientific facilities, including testing and diagnostics equipment, which are resources not often available to many start-up companies.

The initiative expects to initially serve companies in California. According to Berkeley Lab, California is home to more than 30 start-ups and large companies working in battery technologies in the Bay Area alone. Between 2008 and 2010, California companies filed some 258 patents related to batteries. In 2011, venture capital investments in energy storage increased thirteen-fold, comprising 11 percent of all venture investments in clean technologies.

Battery technologies are used in both transportation and stationary energy applications. California adopted the world’s first energy efficiency standards for battery chargers and enacted the second round of the Advanced Clean Car Rules, which targets a 34 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2016 levels by 2025. Nationwide efforts are also underway to modernize the electric grid, to make it possible to integrate renewable energy sources, and grid-scale batteries are an essential part of that effort.

“We wanted to start CalCharge because we know that emerging energy storage companies are facing a complex market and major technical challenges,” says Doug Davenport, development lead for energy storage at Berkeley Lab. CalCEF and Berkeley Lab will officially launch CalCharge tomorrow (30 May) at the Silicon Valley Energy Storage Symposium.

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Photo: Les Chatfield/Flickr

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