Joe Biden committed to addressing climate change as a top priority from the outset of his presidential campaign. With former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm confirmed as the Energy Secretary, the Biden administration is ready to move beyond talk and take action.
During a virtual event organized by Securing America's Future Energy, Granholm stated on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, that the goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Billions in federal money will be spent to shore up charging station infrastructure. Government support will help companies build electric vehicles to make them easier and more profitable to manufacture and for consumers to buy. And the Biden Administration intends to make America competitive when it comes to green energy production and manufacturing.
For example, by increasing domestic battery production, lithium-ion batteries' cost and the materials needed to make them will decrease. In turn, this will make electric vehicles more affordable. Currently, there are five battery manufacturing factories in the U.S., while China has 96. Granholm estimated that the U.S. would need more than 100 battery manufacturing facilities by 2035.
Almost every automaker that sells vehicles in America will electrify their vehicle lineups in coming years. Some, like Volvo, plan to sell nothing but EVs in the future. The Swedish company, which currently manufactures plug-in hybrids in a factory in South Carolina, plans to go fully electric by 2030.
To ensure that American highways are ready to serve these coming EVs, six electric companies have created the Electric Highway Coalition. They will band together to add charging stations up and down the East Coast, along the Gulf Coast, and throughout the South and Central Plains. Similar efforts are underway in New England, and California is spending big on zero-emission vehicles.
The Biden Administration has pledged to build 550,000 new charging stations nationwide. However, traditional fuel refiners and retailers are displaying a reluctance to get on board the electric train. At an energy conference held earlier this week, a spokesperson for Phillips 66 stated that electric charging stations are not a profit center.
Retrofitting chargers to existing gas stations is expensive, especially when accounting for the length of time EVs require to recharge. To make charging stations profitable in the U.S., Phillips 66 would have to charge customers a higher rate for on-the-road charging than they're accustomed to paying at home.
In Europe, Phillips 66 was able to find some degree of profitability in densely populated areas with high parking costs. In this environment, charging station slots often double as parking spaces. In the U.S. market, however, the spokesperson asserts that customers would be better off charging their EVs at home.
Of course, this doesn't address the needs of people who reside in apartments or rental homes, where access to outside power outlets is unavailable, or they cannot install a Level 2 charger themselves.
Granholm suggests that without bold movement by the government, in partnership with the private sector, America stands to forfeit dominance and leadership in the emerging industries that will address the causes of climate change. Furthermore, resisting change could threaten American energy independence, forcing the U.S. to rely on China's growing might in new-energy manufacturing in the future.
"We need to jam on the accelerator here," Granholm reportedly said.