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Berkeley Lab and CalCEF Launch CalCharge Consortium to Support California's Battery Industry

A Berkeley Lab researcher uses a scanning electron microscope to characterize the microstructure of different materials.

In May, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) partnered with CalCEF, which creates institutions and investment vehicles for the clean energy economy, to launch CalCharge, a consortium uniting California's emerging and established battery technology companies with critical academic and government resources. The consortium will bring together dozens of California battery companies and institutions to work on applications for consumer electronics batteries, electric/hybrid vehicle transportation, and the electric grid. Berkeley Lab, CalCEF, and other Bay Area academic institutions aim to create a regional ecosystem for innovation in energy storage that will jumpstart a new era of battery technologies and help to ensure that U.S. companies succeed in this highly competitive environment.

"The next decade will be critical for this industry and this region," said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. "With our highly regarded battery scientists and state-of-the-art equipment at Berkeley Lab, the CalCharge consortium will be able to leverage these resources to enable the development of battery solutions for electric transportation and other clean energy applications in California."

CalCharge is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership working to accelerate the timeline of energy storage commercialization and market adoption through technology assistance, workforce training, and market education. Members will have access to Berkeley Lab's world-class scientific facilities and personnel, including testing and diagnostics equipment not available to many start-up companies. CalCharge offers a streamlined and more affordable channel for Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and similar arrangements that will help scale battery innovations from bench to market.

"To broadly scale renewable energy requires tackling the challenges of energy storage, and no technical community is better suited to those challenges than California's battery engineers and scientists," said Dan Adler, CalCEF's president. "The companies and organizations that make up CalCharge will be central to forging a renewable energy future."

California has emerged as the epicenter of U.S. battery innovation, with more than 30 startups and large companies concentrated in the Bay Area alone. The state has more battery technology patent registrations than the next three leading states combined, and in 2011 venture capital investment in energy storage grew thirteen-fold over the previous year, constituting 11 percent of the state's total VC investment in clean technology.

"There's a lot of battery know-how in California, specifically the Bay Area, but technology startups need an ecosystem to thrive," said Venkat Srinivasan, head of Berkeley Lab's energy storage research program. "The Berkeley Lab battery program, long known for its deep expertise in solving the problems in advanced batteries, is ideally positioned to work with battery companies in the region. We look forward to building this ecosystem with CalCharge."

This consortium will accelerate technology development by merging the contributions of companies involved in advanced battery technology, users of that technology, research institutions, and an educated workforce—all supported by local governments that will provide the policies and incentives to foster a regional energy storage industry.

"We wanted to start CalCharge because we know that emerging energy storage companies are facing a complex market and major technical challenges," said Doug Davenport, co-lead of the CalCharge initiative at Berkeley Lab. "CalCEF is an ideal partner for us because they bring a focus on policy and markets that truly complements our science and technology orientation."

—Julie Chao

Additional information:

CalCEF is a non-profit umbrella organization that promotes the transition to a clean energy economy by creating institutions and investment vehicles that grow markets for clean energy technologies.

Please direct CalCharge membership inquiries to Doug Davenport.

Advanced Battery Research for Transportation

Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies

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