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$120M energy storage research grant could help W Michigan advanced battery manufacturers, colleges




Zeeland-based Lakeshore Advantage, an economic development corporation, has been named an affiliate partner in a $120 million federal Energy Department grant to fund research and development of new technologies in energy storage. The grant will create the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, located at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, IL.

Dubbed Michigan's SmartCoast, the Holland area has seen an investment of $1 billion by companies such as Johnson Controls, LG Chem, and Toda America to develop advanced energy storage solutions. Lakeshore Advantage President Randy Thelen says West Michigan is recognized as having one of the highest concentrations of advanced energy storage manufacturers in the world. As market demand and applications continue to grow (think cell phones, power tools, electric automobiles, and military uses), the demand for new technologies grows.

"Soon we'll see a great deal of military applications and alternative energy applications -- battery packs to store wind energy and distribute it later. We're at the very early stage of a very big industry," Thelen says. "Research conducted as the result of this grant is going to get to the core of costs, power density, and weight. People are using more and more energy and being more and more mobile, and we need a way to store the energy so people can have the mobility that they want."

Argonne National Laboratory received the grant, but had pulled in a series of strategic partners to write a strong application for the monies. As one of those partners, Lakeshore Advantage will bring in West Michigan manufacturers, colleges, and universities already involved in advanced energy storage research as part of the momentum for further research and development. Thelen says the industry could bring untold numbers of high-tech jobs to West Michigan and Chicago.

Source: Randy Thelen, Lakeshore Advantage
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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