The Department of Energy is readying efforts to support President Joe Biden's ambitious climate and energy goals by focusing on electric vehicles and ensuring the U.S. maintains global competitiveness, newly confirmed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday.
"President Biden is demanding that we get America to that net-zero [carbon emissions] by 2050. The transportation sector is the largest source of those emissions," Granholm said during a virtual event organized by Securing America's Future Energy, a nonpartisan group committed to reducing the country's reliance on oil.
"We need to jam on the accelerator here," the former Michigan governor said.
To aid the administration's clean-energy agenda, Granholm said the department is going to invest billions over the next few years in technologies that will speed the adoption of EVs.
"We're going to double down on our R&D in the technologies that will make EVs easier to manufacture, easier to deploy, easier for the American people to access," Granholm explained.
That includes further reducing the cost of lithium ion battery packs, making EVs and charging stations more accessible to the public and reducing charging times, while also ensuring that products related to reducing carbon emissions are made in the U.S.
"Beyond minerals, we've got to scale up our domestic battery production itself to compete globally," said Granholm, adding that the U.S will need more than 100 battery-cell manufacturing locations in the U.S. by 2035.
She added: "Today, we've got five. China has 96."
In September, Securing America's Future Energy released a report titled "The Commanding Heights of Global Transportation" that highlighted how the shift toward electrification has left the U.S. auto industry in a vulnerable competitive state with China.
The report included several policy recommendations to enable the U.S. to compete with China by supporting domestic manufacturing and the alternative-fuel vehicle market, developing a U.S. critical-minerals supply chain and advancing next-generation transportation technology such as autonomous vehicles.
The nine policy proposals, which range from regulatory reform and tax incentives to more government investment, would create 647,000 jobs over the next one to five years if implemented, according to a new study released by the group Tuesday.
"China's intent — made clear by its Made in China 2025 plan and subsequent moves to control the supply chain for electric, connected vehicles — poses a grave threat to American leadership, jobs and national security," the group's CEO, Robbie Diamond, said in a statement. "America's failure to compete aggressively risks our swapping oil dependence for reliance on Beijing for the transportation that will power our economy in the 21st century."
Of the 647,000 jobs created, about 270,000 would be added through investment in transportation manufacturing grants and tax incentives alone, according to the study, which was commissioned by the Washington-based think tank and conducted by Keybridge Public Policy Economics.
"The jobs effect is clear: Competing aggressively with China for EV and AV leadership includes a significant net creation of American jobs in the industries of the future," Diamond said. "Tepid competition will render our industrial base and its workers weakened and vulnerable."