By Secretary Dan Brouillette
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with cars. As I shared in an opinion editorial for The Columbus Dispatch my father was a service manager at a Ford Motor Company dealership, and one of my first “jobs” was putting the shiny hubcaps back on a finished car with my brother for $0.25 apiece.
Like the State of Ohio and the surrounding region, I have seen a lot of changes in the automotive industry over the years. But one thing that has not changed since its founding is the Department of Energy’s commitment to developing safer vehicles, cleaner fuels, and cutting-edge technologies to keep the American car industry positioned for success and growth.
On Thursday in Ohio, I saw firsthand how DOE’s public and private sectors are advancing innovative electric vehicle technology, bringing automotive jobs back to America, and securing critical supply chains. I was honored to join Vice President Mike Pence in Ohio’s “Voltage Valley.”
DOE’s proud to say that innovations from our Vehicle Technology Office and our National Labs have been one of the main drivers of innovations in today’s transportation technologies. That’s due to both our basic research and the fact that we are one of the largest supporters of technology transfer in the federal government.
As I discussed with a group of Ohio industry leaders on Friday, DOE has invested $1.2 billion in energy storage research and development, or an average of $400 million per year over the last three years (FY17-19).
As part of President Trump’s Advanced Energy Storage Initiative, this past January we launched our Energy Storage Grand Challenge with the goal of accelerating the development, commercialization, and – importantly – utilization of energy storage technologies, as well as sustaining and advancing America’s leadership in this vital area.
But, as great as our research and advancements are, the United States must become non-reliant on foreign nations who may seek to do us harm for the critical materials needed to make products such as electric vehicle batteries, phones, computer screens, and more. Today, the United States is import-reliant on 31 of the 35 critical minerals, which means that our imports are greater than half of annual consumption.
To solve this problem, DOE is researching ways to identify and extract critical minerals and rare earth elements from previously untapped sources in the United States, such as our vast coal reserves. Some five million metric tons of critical minerals could come from the recoverable reserves in Appalachia, with even more from our basins in the Western States.
Just last month we announced up to $30 million for innovation in critical materials processing technologies, which will move us closer to innovations that reduce both the cost and the environmental impact of the production of these materials.
Our “all-of-the-above approach” to energy demands not just innovating new energy resources and increasing reliability, but increasing security through ensuring our supply chains can keep moving and that America has the critical elements needed to make this awesome technology possible. DOE is proud to support these efforts and is thankful for the research, development, and commercialization from our National Labs and private sector partners across America.
Those efforts are going to benefit every American, every Ohioan … and especially every child growing up with a fascination for cars.