Binghamton University battery industry plan gets $64 million boost

Broome County’s thriving battery industry received a charge on Friday that could fuel the southern part’s economy for decades to come.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Binghamton University’s New Energy New York project was awarded $63.7 million through the regional Build Back Better Challenge, a competitive process that drew more than 500 applicants seeking grants between $25 million and $100 million.

The Binghamton University-led Southern Tier Coalition was announced as a finalist in December for part of the $1 billion pool administered by the Federal Economic Development Administration.

Binghamton’s proposal was one of 21 projects funded and one of only two in New York State. The Buffalo-Niagara region has received $25 million for a technology hub in western New York.

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Binghamton’s New Energy New York project aims to make the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes areas the nation’s premier center for lithium battery research, manufacturing and workforce development. The proposal aims to revitalize an industry that has grown in Broome County in recent years.

Distinguished Binghamton professor Stanley Whittingham won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in lithium-ion battery research, and research from the university helped launch a local battery manufacturer, iM3NY, which opens a gigafactory on the Huron campus of Endicott, which once housed IBM. .

“This huge federal investment breathes new life into that legacy of making Binghamton one of the premier hubs of manufacturing and once again making the Southern Tier a powerhouse of manufacturing and innovation,” Schumer said. “Literally in the same building that IBM once occupied in downtown Endicott, we will invest in the future of technology, driving battery manufacturing in an industry that will dominate and define the 21st century.”

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Funded by the $1.9 trillion U.S. bailout, the regional Build Back Better Challenge was tasked with making “transformational investments” that “develop and strengthen regional industrial clusters across the country, while embracing growth equitable economy, creating well-paying jobs, and improving America’s global competitiveness.

The lithium-ion battery industry is dominated by companies headquartered in Asia. Binghamton’s plan hopes to bring that manufacturing capability to America at a time when demand for batteries is booming. Lithium-ion batteries power a growing fleet of electric vehicles as well as everyday objects like cell phones, laptops and smart watches. Energy storage technology could also play a role in strengthening the national power grid.

Schumer said a secure supply chain for lithium-ion batteries is a matter of national security as well as energy security.

“Right now, we’re barely making batteries here in the United States, which makes us vulnerable,” Schumer said.

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What does Binghamton’s plan look like?

The view of the Huron campus from the corner of Oak Hill and Watson Boulevard.  Binghamton's New Energy New York project will create Battery-NY, a battery technology and manufacturing center hosted by Binghamton University on the Huron Campus.

Binghamton’s New Energy New York project focuses on five core efforts: workforce development, supply chain development, equity and justice, fuel storage innovation energy and the creation of Battery-NY, a battery technology and manufacturing center hosted by Binghamton University. The facility will be located on the Huron campus. It will help develop new battery technologies and manufacturing infrastructure, and drive workforce training to meet the demands of a growing industry.

“iM3NY has just started production in Endicott as the only purely local battery factory in North America. It will help him develop,” Schumer said. “It will give them the employees they need. People across the country are looking for which region is going to have trained workers who can make these batteries quickly and well. We will be at the top of the list.

Schumer noted that the New Energy New York project received one of the largest grants from the Build Back Better Challenge. Only two projects received more than $63.7 million from Binghamton, two $65 million projects in California and Georgia.

Binghamton requested the maximum funding of $100 million, but the university’s plan included additional versions that represented lower funding levels. Some projects will be reduced.

“We still think we should be able to do whatever we want to do,” Per Stromhaug, Binghamton’s associate vice president for innovation and economic development, previously told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. “Even with slightly less funding from EDA, this will be a hugely successful and impactful program.”

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Stanley Whittingham, American-British professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Binghamton, attends the Advanced Lithium Batteries for Automobile Applications (ABAA) conference in Ulm, Germany, Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

Binghamton’s initial estimates predicted that the full subsidy could support 8,000 new jobs over 10 years and indirectly support or support thousands more. The Battery-NY facility on the Huron Campus will be located in a Federal Opportunity Zone in an economically challenged community. The workforce development and equity components of the project will promote workforce participation from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Binghamton officials have described the Battery-NY training center as an “attractor” that could lure other manufacturers to the area and help revitalize a Broome County economy that once relied on one of the giants of the early 20th century technology, IBM.

“Right now, there’s a lot more demand (for lithium-ion batteries) than supply, and we’re hoping this facility we’re planning will help encourage more manufacturers to come to the Southern Tier and make more batteries,” Whittingham said.

Grant continues its growth momentum for battery manufacturing

Binghamton's New Energy New York project will create Battery-NY, a battery technology and manufacturing center hosted by Binghamton University on the Huron Campus in Endicott.

In addition to Binghamton University, the New Energy New York coalition includes SUNY Broome, Rochester Institute of Technology, Corning Community College, NY-BEST, and various other government and nonprofit agencies.

The Build Back Better award continues a series of recent federal investments in battery manufacturing that could pay dividends for Broome County’s growing battery industry.

Schumer said the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in November 2021 included $6 billion in incentives for battery development and research, and the Cut Inflation Act passed in August included billions. US battery manufacturing tax credits.

Schumer said the New Energy New York project will start “in months, not years.” The EDA is expected to disburse the funds “very quickly”.

“They want to get them out fast because they know there’s an international race here. Battery companies around the world are looking for where to set up shop,” Schumer said. “Of course, they’re going to be incentivized to move here because we’re saying that our electric cars must, within a few years, be made with 100% Made in America batteries. The faster, the better. ‘is.”

Chris Potter can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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