U.S. Sen John Hickenlooper of Colorado speaks at an event hosted by battery manufacturer Solid Power at its Thornton facility on Aug. 14, 2023. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)
Gov. Jared Polis, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper and other local elected officials were on hand Monday as Colorado-based battery manufacturer Solid Power showed off its new facility in Thornton, where executives hope the stage is set for a revolution in electric vehicle technology.
“We really stand a very good chance in changing the world from right here in Colorado,” John Van Scoter, Solid Power’s CEO, told a roomful of guests at the company’s 75,000-square-foot plant, which opened last year.
Founded in 2011 by a team that included two University of Colorado Boulder researchers, Solid Power aims to develop a viable solid-state battery for use in electric vehicles.
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As opposed to traditional batteries, which use liquid electrolytes to function, solid-state batteries use solid materials for the same purpose. That gives them several key advantages — including a longer range, faster charging and reduced risk of fires — over the lithium-ion batteries currently used in EVs, though experts say their high cost, low discharge rates and other challenges must be overcome before they can be widely adopted by automakers.
Solid Power, one of several prominent startups aiming to develop the technology, has received roughly $100 million in funding from the likes of Ford and BMW. The latter has announced plans to build a demonstration vehicle using Solid Power’s technology by 2025.
Federal support has also helped the company, Van Scoter said, in the form of Department of Energy research grants, as well as other grants and tax credits it’s pursuing under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law and last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.
Hickenlooper praised companies like Solid Power for doing “the hard work of taking good ideas and innovations and turning them into commercial enterprise,” pointing to this summer’s deadly heat waves and other climate disasters as proof that “time is of the essence” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and other sources.
“We’ve got a long way to go in terms of really convincing corporate America that this is doable,” Hickenlooper warned. “(We need) to keep the incentives and the tax credits in place that lets a company like Solid Power continue to grow, and if at all possible, to accelerate that growth.”
One year after the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden, Colorado Democrats have also touted its role in incentivizing other manufacturing investments across Colorado, including a lithium-ion and solar plants in Brighton and the expansion of CS Wind’s turbine factory in Pueblo.
Van Scoter said that in the four years since Solid Power opened its first production facility in Louisville, the company has grown from 50 to over 250 employees, and the company has plans to expand further, including a “large-scale” plant once its batteries hit the EV production line.
“We will continue to invest in Colorado as we go forward,” Van Scoter said.
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