Chattanooga “paves the way” in the electric vehicle supply chain, says energy minister
Chattanooga paves the way for a new electric vehicle supply chain in America as battery materials maker Novonix opens a factory in the city, the nation’s energy secretary said here on Monday.
Secretary of State Jennifer Granholm said at the inauguration of the $ 160 million Novonix facility on Riverfront Parkway that the facility is helping to create “an entire ecosystem” related to the production of electric vehicles and the batteries that power them.
“This is exactly what every state and every community should do,” she told a few hundred people who emerged at the former Alstom manufacturing facility, now renamed The Bend.
Granholm said President Joe Biden is bringing back the supply chain for battery-powered vehicles from overseas, along with well-paying jobs.
“The battery and EV supply chain has historically been overseas,” said the former Democratic governor of Michigan, adding that a move to America will help “secure the future of our energy system.”
Granholm: Chattanooga is paving the way in the electric vehicle supply chain
Using a hockey analogy, Granholm said that companies like Nova Scotia Novonix and its CEO Chris Burns are looking ahead and “the puck has landed in Chattanooga”.
The Novonix facility on Riverfront Parkway is expected to produce up to 10,000 tons of synthetic graphite per year and employ nearly 300 workers. This product is used in extremely durable high-performance anode material for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage.
Burns, who previously worked for electric car maker Tesla, said the electric vehicle supply chain in North America is missing and Novonix is helping to usher in “a new era of electrification.”
“We want to be part of it,” he said of the company, which opened a small facility in Lookout Valley for the first time in 2017.
Andrew Liveris, a Novonix board member and chairman of emerging electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors, said the battery materials company was “pioneering.”
He said America sees “a turning point” in electrifying mobility in the country as battery-powered vehicles become a form of mass transit.
Zhanna Golodryga, senior vice president of energy giant Phillips 66 and also on Novonix’s board of directors, said it was the key to greater energy independence and lower carbon emissions.
“Building the supply chain is critical,” said Golodryga, whose company recently made a $ 150 million investment in Novonix.
Former US Senator Bob Corker said Novonix is strategically placing Chattanooga at the center of the growth of the lithium-ion battery industry.
Novonix “makes Chattanooga the center of its North American activities,” said the city’s former mayor, adding that “well-paying jobs make life better”.
Current Mayor Tim Kelly said the Novonix plant is “the tip of the spear” and the nation is watching Chattanooga.
“That makes Chattanooga a hub for our sustainable future,” he said.
Bob Rolfe, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said electric vehicle development is “one of our great reshoring opportunities.”
“Tennessee is playing a big role in this transformation,” he said, citing investments by auto companies Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors and Nissan in the state.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said no company is more excited about Novonix’s arrival in town than Volkswagen.
The German automaker plans to build an electric SUV in its Enterprise South industrial park in the third quarter of 2022 and is well on the way to hiring 1,000 more employees.
US MP Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., Cited the growing partnership between Chattanooga and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which Granholm also visited on Monday.
Speaking in Oak Ridge, Granholm said the new $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package, signed last week, should help advance broadband infrastructure across America and help more communities get high-speed internet connections and that Realize smarter power grids that are now available in Chattanooga.
Granholm said the additional $ 65 billion allocated to improving broadband internet access in rural areas should make broadband more accessible and affordable for low-income households in the US, including the 13% of households in Tennessee, who now have no broadband connections to the Internet.
“Chattanooga’s experience as a ‘Gig City’ could mean Tennessee becomes a ‘Gig State’ because there will be funding for high-speed Internet services in every pocket in the state,” she said during a visit to the Grid Research and Integration and Deployment Center. “Every home will have access to high-speed internet.”
Granholm said the infrastructure package will also provide additional funding for further research in the laboratory, the largest of the Department of Energy’s 17 facilities where scientists and engineers are studying Chattanooga’s fiber-based EPB network to create more microgrids and energy delivery systems to improve electricity reliability and costs.
Biden has set itself the goal of generating 100% clean energy by 2035 and avoiding 100% CO2 emissions by 2050.
“To achieve this, part of the law that was passed last week was a big step forward, but there is another part to come,” said Granholm. “The solutions that are being worked on here in the laboratory are the solutions that we have to implement. We want to ensure that we are at the forefront of global research and development with our research infrastructure.”
The bipartisan infrastructure bill will also fund additional charging infrastructure across the country and ongoing research at Oak Ridge to enable fast wireless charging within 10 to 15 minutes, as well as new technology that could one day allow vehicles to one day auto-charge can when charging on freeways.
“This laboratory is thinking about the future as it works on the challenges of the present,” said Granholm.
Fleischmann voted against the Infrastructure Bill, saying, “The Democrats’ trillion bill goes well beyond rebuilding roads and bridges and does nothing to lessen the pesky federal regulations that are stifling infrastructure projects in Tennessee.”