Sixteen years ago, a big change in transportation was unveiled in Santa Monica, California, and as Martin Eberhard, the man behind the change, explained, the battery was the key to this transformation of transportation. California’s becoming the fourth largest economy in the world is largely because of it’s role as changemaker. To make our planet more livable, and, indeed, keep the planet Earth habitable for humans, we need to innovate and electrify almost everything and ignore the petroleum and gas industry’s smear tactics against renewable energy. Electrification includes automobiles. California is already the largest car manufacturing state in America, and Tesla’s Fremont (the happiest city in the US) plant is the busiest plant in North America with plans to produce more than 600,000 vehicles in the coming year (2023). After a short stent in Texas, Musk has moved Tesla’s HQ back to California so that the company can stay in the forefront of innovation. Supporting innovation are California’s superlative universities. Consider the latest ranking by U.S. News and World Report. Three of the world’s top 10 universities are Berkeley, Caltech, and Stanford, and three more — UCLA, UC San Francisco and UC San Diego — round out the top 20. And USC in Los Angeles is #25, UC Santa Barbara is #32, UC Irvine is #34, UC Davis is #38, and even the brand new UC Merced is ranked above anything in Florida at #97. Of the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Pomona College near Los Angeles is #3. By contrast, Texas’ top school, the University of Texas Austin, ranks 43rd and Florida’s best school, the University of Florida, is 98th (and that’s before regressive Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education reforms targeting “liberal elites” begin to downgrade the state’s mediocre schools). This is a big reason why California is booming, the innovation hub of the planet, and why San Francisco’s “Cerebral Valley” is rapidly developing in 2023 in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) boom, especially in generative AI.
Realizing tax breaks don’t lead to innovation, Tesla returns home to the land of innovation where over 50 manufacturing companies in the electric vehicle space have their HQs. The state is preparing for the revolution in many ways, and companies such as California’s Chipotle are building restaurants with solar panels and EV charging stations. Figure AI in Sunnyvale just received $70 million in funding to build AI, electric robots that will perform physical tasks in the building our new green economy. While the oil industry prospers in Texas, because it doesn’t require a brain to dig a hole, the science and engineering of EVs requires a vast, highly educated talent pool offered by California. San Jose in the Silicon Valley as of May 2023 is still the number one metropolitan area for college grads to find a job. As part of the EV revolution, electric aircraft manufacturers, Joby Aviation (based in Marina, along the coast south of the Silicon Valley) and Archer Aviation (based in San Jose) are scaling up production after receiving numerous contracts. Although most of the industrial world continues to move to clean energy, 17 Republican-led, regressive states looking to revoke California’s Clean Air Act waiver, which allows the state to set emissions standards higher than federal standards for itself and any states wishing to adopt them, the auto industry is backing California, and Republican-led states fall further behind. Among the states suing California, is, you guessed it, the regressive state of Texas. So backward is Texas that they are now working to roll-back clean energy initiatives in the state, in favor of gas and oil. In Texas, petroleum and chemical plants continuously explode and catch fire, often due to leaking gas: for example, Jan, 2023, Feb. 2023, March 2023, May 2023. So deregulated is Texas, 18,000 cattle were killed in a ranch explosion, sending volumes of pollution into the atmosphere. That’s not a typo – it was 18,000 head of cattle killed. The Washington DC-based Animal Welfare Institute said that – if confirmed – a death toll of 18,000 cows would be “by far” the deadliest barn fire involving cattle since it began keeping statistics in 2013. Some things are bigger in Texas.
Planet Labs in San Francisco is using satellite imaging to measure the massive amounts of gas, which includes the planet-warming CO2 and methane, that is leaking from our gas pipelines. I remember the days when Republicans believed in science and were doing something about pollution – but that was long ago when California’s Richard Nixon, a Republican, was president and the EPA was created. But, beginning with Ronald Reagan, a failed actor from Illinois who committed treason, multiple times, the Republicans would devastate the EPA and fall back on archaic energy policies. Unlike Florida and Texas, throughout California, in places such as San Diego, the use of polluting gas is being slashed. Six of the top 10 most sustainable cities are in California, and to no surprise, none are in Texas or Florida. New companies in California, such as Measurabl in San Diego, have developed new software platforms that allow companies to track their ESG activities. In the market, ESG is huge. Regressives fail to understand this are being left behind in their antediluvian worldview.
As UC Berkeley professors have reported, moving to a clean energy grid and the sale of only electric cars by 2035 is doable and will create jobs, save money and lives, and improve health. And as Dr. Mark Jacobson, Ph.D. professor at Stanford, author of No Miracles Needed, says, “The total amount of mining that’s going to be needed for wind, water, solar, compared to the fossil fuel system, is much less than 1% in terms of the mass of materials.” Moving to clean energy systems includes electric vehicles, which are much cleaner than combustion vehicles. California is leading the way to do this. Include in the vehicle mix bicycles, including electric bikes, with cities that are bike oriented, and pollution can be reduced and health increased. Emeryville CA, adjacent to Berkeley, is the most bicycle friendly city in the US. And people are happier because of it. Green energy means not only generating most energy from renewables, but also making energy use more efficient. “It is often said that where the golden state of California leads, others will follow.” True to form, Berkeley was the first city, in 2019, to ban gas hookups in new homes. Gas stoves are not only inefficient, but are detrimental to human health, including cancer causing. Now, more than 70 cities throughout the country, except for regressive Texas, have followed Berkeley’s lead. California tore up and put the Republican’s negative memo about woke capitalism and ESG (environmental, social, governance) investing in the recycling bin. That recycled paper became the blueprint for a sustainable, inclusive future that California wrote. ESG is a framework designed for an organizational strategy that considers the needs and ways in which to generate value for all of organizational stakeholders, not just the corporate owners. Democracy, not plutocracy and authoritarian rule is what this means. These values are part of the reason why people are flocking to California, where Sacramento is the leading city for new residents and San Diego follows close behind. Places in California, such as San Diego, including downtown San Diego, and nearby University of California, San Diego, are booming. UCSD is located in San Diego’s La Jolla, an area that is not only a tech hub, but also features the country’s most beautiful beach, La Jolla Cove, while San Diego is known to be one of the most progressive cities in the country. And with California’s nearby Lithium Valley now beginning to produce lithium for EV batteries, with commercial scale-up in progress, California will continue its growth that great Democratic Governors such as Pat Brown built, the father of Modern California, Jerry Brown, the son who continued his father’s innovation and then later brought the state back to the 5th largest economy in the world after Republicans had torn it down to #8, and Gavin Newsom, who brought the state to #4 in the world. California had been officially the fifth largest economy, and is now the 4th largest economy on the planet, growing rapidly, and is the leading manufacturing state in the US and the innovation hub of the world. “The competitive advantages that have made the California economy the envy of the world remain very much intact.” While other areas of the country are experiencing tech layoffs, California continues to gain more tech jobs, with San Diego having the lowest unemployment rate of any large metropolitan area in the US, a rate that keeps falling thanks to a burgeoning tech sector. For California, it’s not just the money. Cities in California dominate the rankings for best quality of life, the happiest cities (Freemont and San Jose are #1 and 2) in the US, and electrification is part of the quality. Keep in mind as you read this article, that the California and US governments acting as and through other public institutions, such as the University of California, drive California to continually dominate the US economy and to propel the state as the innovation leader of the world. Instead of building an economy on polluting, turn-of-the-century industries such as oil, new green businesses are flourishing in California. In San Diego, for example, EcoATM is growing its business of recycling electronics, namely recycling mobile phones. In Mountain View, Range Energy is electrifying the trailers on 18-wheel commercial trucks to extend the driving range of the rig. And an AI wearable device created by Humane AI in San Francisco will reduce the use of consumables. And the pace of technological breakthroughs never slows at Berkeley, as scientists, such as Dr. Yan Zeng, Ph.D., and engineers create new AI Robots that conduct research to make new materials for solar panels and other green technologies. Open AI in San Francisco, cofounded by UC Berkeley alum, Dr. John Schulman, Ph.D., is now working on autonomous driving. In Santa Clara, Applied Materials has developed new tools for making special, lightweight chips for the EV market.
Despite what Ronald Reagan’s handlers, self aggrandizing plutocrats, told him to say, government is the solution to most, if not all, problems. Saying that government, the power of the people in a democracy, is the problem, was a damnation of democracy by Reagan. Without proper democratic regulations, “free markets” (there is no such thing as a free market) become unstable and often crash – such as the Savings and Loan Crisis that Reagan ushered in, and the rich become richer. Reagan’s Neoliberalism would gut the middle class and manufacturing, and lead to a government run by plutocrats. Essentially, Reagan would make the government an enemy of the people, and then blame the government for gutting the people. Stupid people believed him, rich people prospered. To bring plutocracy to the US, Reagan would even commit treason by cutting a deal with Iran to block President Carter from bringing back the US citizens held hostage in Iran, thus diminishing Carter’s bid for reelection. The Republican plutocratic strategy works by persuading white working class voters to focus not on financial self-interest, but on race, conservative religious values and other perceived identity threats, and this blights the US economy. The national debt soared 3X under Reagan and the US moved from a creditor nation to a debtor nation. Other people’s money, taken from the middle class, fueled the Republican ideology of making the rich even richer. Reagan’s privatization and deregulation of healthcare, including for example, an FDA where the clinical trials are run by companies and half of the budget of the FDA comes from the companies being regulated, would lead to the medicalization of America and the world’s worst and most expensive healthcare system. As governor, Reagan would cut one of the most important things driving the innovation in California, the great public universities in the state. All of this meant that Reagan was moving money away from innovation and the public good, and into the hands of the wealthy.
Many innovations important to EVs were developed at UC Berkeley, one of Reagan’s targets for cuts. A better way of making cars drive autonomously, other than just using on-board sensors and AI was successfully developed at Berkeley in the 90s. Unfortunately, the “government is the problem mentality” got in the way, and the funding was dropped. Leaving this problem up to the private sector will likely never work. That’s because we’ve tried to make the transition to self-driving cars without changing infrastructure. Society always needs to change infrastructure if we’re going to do a major change. And change in infrastructure only comes from government.
Some of the current innovations at Berkeley include a new means for lithium-ion battery recycling. The current recycling process includes shredding, grinding, and pyrolysis of the materials, which is highly energy intensive and has a large environmental footprint. A Quick-Release Binder technology from Berkeley Lab eliminates these processes–as well as the production of toxic gases–by using water processes for manufacturing and recycling. All the battery components simply dissociate in pH adjusted water and are easily recovered and reprocessed. Dr. Peidong Yang, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, whose team helped pioneer photocatalytic water splitting for the production of hydrogen from sunlight 20 years ago. This new means of generating green electricity, important for charging EVs, is thought to be nearing commercialization. A transformative, environmentally friendly and cost efficient means to cool things, including EV batteries, was just invented at Berkeley. Many fundamental discoveries and inventions were made at Berkeley and other UC schools, as I explain later. Reagan was a moron’s favorite moron, and a puppet of the wealthy. California, under Republican governors, and their unwise programs of austerity, would eventually fall from the 5th largest economy in the world to the 8th. Democrat governors Jerry Brown (UC Berkeley grad) and Gavin Newsom (Santa Clara Univ grad) would bring the California economy back to 5th and very recently to 4th in the world. Public ventures drive innovation, and public-private ventures help to bring those innovations to market. Such ventures, unlike financialization of the economy, bring new products to market, increase the GDP, and bring value to mankind. This has always been so for the US, from the beginning where home industries were supported by the US government, and protectionism was central to growing the US economy. Government funding and support can propel companies from ideation all the way through market domination. Qualcomm, the communications, microelectronics, and software giant in San Diego, is one example of being government funded and supported at all phases of its business. Qualcomm’s cofounder, Dr. Irwin Jacobs, professor of engineering at UCSD, was supported by state and US funding as a professor, Qualcomm was funded by an SBIR grant from the US, government contracts supported it throughout its life, and when a hostile takeover from a foreign company was likely to happen while Qualcomm dominated its market, the US government stepped in to stop the deal. A big loss of IP, intellectual assets and physical assets would have occurred, shifting those assets overseas to a foreign power. In 2023, we see libertarian billionaires who are venture capitalists, such as Peter Thiel, cry for help from the US government after they created a “bank run” on Silicon Valley Bank. Some believe Peter Thiel created the “bank run” to make the Biden Administration look bad as another means to have libertarian-leaning politicians, such as Trump, retake the US government. There are a number of culprits behind the SVB bank run, including Trump Republicans who deregulated the banks during the Trump presidency. The eponymous Mike Crapo (R-ID) led the move in Congress to deregulate. Thanks for your crap, Crapo. Once again, the bailout of the wealthy (no government rules or taxes when we’re making money, but if we loose money, please help) means the US is biased toward socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the middle class. For guys like SVB’s CEO Greg Becker, a graduate of Indiana University’s business school, their bank is too small to regulate and too big to fail. In other words, we’ll use government money to build our business and our personal worth, but don’t tax us and don’t tell us how to use tax dollars, but once we fuck up our business, please give us more money to protect our personal wealth. Once the bank collapses, I’m off to my home in Hawaii to spend the money you gave me.
Despite the screw-ups of some of the libertarians, who mostly moved to Texas (Musk and Thiel- good riddance), in 2020, California continued its innovation leadership, accounting for one-quarter of the nation’s technology productivity, and received $84.3 billion in Venture Capital investment, while #2 New York had $17.8, Massachusetts $15.9, and lowly Texas received just $4.4. Ron DeSantis, and his regressive Florida regime, are nowhere to be found. So behind is this state, that they revel in being #17 in innovation in the US. Yes, the 3rd most populous state is # 17 in innovation. Such a disaster is Florida, that some cities literally cannot turn on their lights because the state lacks money to help repair the city’s broken lighting system. And if you want fuel for your auto in Florida, plan to be in a long line at the gas station. Good thing Ron DeSantis is waging war on Mickey Mouse and away from Florida on an ego-building weeks long trip outside of Florida, while his state crumbles. Perhaps Mr. DeSantis lost his white boots and is spending time in New York looking for a shinier pair. DeSantis is such a emotional, child-man that that his personal vendetta against Disney has now cost the state billions of dollars. Seriously, DeSantis is one of Jacksonville’s finest, a city with high crime, poor infrastructure, rampant racism and racial tension, and so much more. According to 2022 money laundering statistics by state, Florida has the highest number of offenders. Building an economy on drug smuggling and money laundering doesn’t lead to innovation, but does lead to dumb people on big boats. Few are dumber than DeSantis, and suffering from apparent Anusitis due to corporate money insertion, mixed with his authoritarian zeal, he developed a consequent love of big, polluting boats such that locals cannot protect their own environment.
With 3 of the 4 top tech hubs (#1 San Francisco Bay Area, #3 Los Angeles, and rapidly growing #4 San Diego; NYC area is #2), California is a growing industrial giant and the world’s leader in industries such as aerospace, green technology, and biotech (which far exceeds that of #2 New York). Los Angeles County has the largest GDP of any county in the country. The city of San Francisco itself has at least 139 companies worth one billion or more, more billionaires than any other city in the world, and two-thirds of American decacorns (over $10 billion in valuation) are headquartered in the Bay Area. Sprouting-up in San Francisco are companies such as Living Carbon, led by CEO, Maddie Hall, a graduate of the prestigious Claremont Colleges in the beautiful foothills above Los Angeles. They produce and sell sprouts of genetically engineered plants that are able to capture large amounts of carbon. SPAN is making hardware that better controls electrical power distribution in buildings, including to that EV plugged in at home. In 2023, SPAN is growing fast. In nearby Santa Clara, Astera Labs is a new electronic chip design company that was listed on Forbes “Next Billion Dollar Startup” list of 2022. Electronic data flow in the EV industry is enormous, and Astera offers chip designs to support the industry needs. The chipmaking industry is expanding in California, and as one example, Applied Materials in Santa Clara has announced a new $4 Billion R&D facility for chip making tools. This will be the world’s largest chip technology facility that will allow chipmakers to innovate much more rapidly. Another company emerging in the Bay Area is Ionblox, led by UCSD graduate Herman Lopez, a cofounder, they offer a new lithium ion battery technology with 50% greater energy density and five times more power over lithium-ion batteries, while enabling fast-charge times of 10 minutes. The battery cell performance has been verified by Idaho National Laboratory. Electronics giant, Apple, continues to expand in Cupertino, as has Google in Mountain View, having just announced a partnership with Mercedes. And over in Palo Alto, Tesla is opening a new engineering headquarters, part of what Musk describes as Tesla being a “dual headquarter company,” meaning the brains of Tesla are in California. Musk himself, spends most of his time in California, not Texas. Reestablishing Tesla in California is a means to return the company to an innovation-based company, not one that spirals downward in the land of regressives where nothing new was created other than Bar-b-cue parties in Austin. Sadly, Austin exists in unregulated Texas where start-up incubators can take money from founders and then give nothing in return, while the incubator, AstraLabs, goes bankrupt, leaving not only the founders with nothing, but the AstraLabs investors too with nothing.
Meanwhile on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, part of Los Angeles, Carbonics is revolutionizing traditional electronics by employing earth abundant carbon nanomaterials to enhance the performance limits of existing CMOS, semiconductor, and silicon technology. A spin-out of UCLA and UC Santa Barbara’s California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), developed by Gov. Gray Davis, Carbonics has products being used by the US military and a number of private aerospace companies. In nearby Lancaster, UCLA grad, Michael Stern, a mechanical engineer, is cofounder of B2U Storage Solutions. They recycle batteries that have lost enough of their power so as to be too inefficient for vehicle use. The repurposed batteries are used for energy storage, and cleverly, can be installed into large scale battery storage systems in their existing battery pack. Also in the Los Angeles area, Machina Labs is building new high tech factories using advanced AI-driven robotics technologies. To be smart, these AI technologies need a knowledge base. It’s like human memory allowing us to be smart. Pinecone in San Francisco provides vector memories needed by AI. Continuing south to San Diego, Fabric8Labs, led by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo grad, Jeff Herman, is using 3D printing to make nano and microelectronics. They just raised $50 million in a second round to expand their factory in San Diego. Better performing and sustainable electronics will greatly benefit the EV industry. In beautiful Petaluma (while you’re there, don’t miss the world-class bread at Della Fattoria baked in their ancient wood-burning oven), AG Gas is using industrial waste carbon dioxide and applying it to agriculture for optimized plant growth. As an example of their technology, the efficacy of CO2 enrichment on open-air crops more than doubled the marketable yield of tomatoes in one university-led study (Cal State Fresno and UC Davis). The number one innovation hub, the San Francisco Bay Area, includes Silicon Valley’s hub, the most inventive city on the planet, San Jose. Having previously started the semiconductor and computer industry, the internet, and biotech, California has created another industry.
The electric vehicle revolution, powered by lithium ion batteries, has begun, with much thanks to the two engineers who founded Tesla, Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard, working in Berkeley, and to government funding from the Obama and Biden administrations and the state of California. The state of California is booming as its policies and funding propels the EV revolution, and with a $97 Billion surplus this year and $75 Billion last year, California is investing in green technology, including major investment in the state’s grid to meet the anticipated electrical demand. Yes, government does most of the risk taking and funds most innovation. As Dr. Mariana Mazzucato, Ph.D., professor of economics, says, “Every major technological change in recent years traces most of its funding back to the state.” If you’re reading this on a computer or a mobile phone, almost all aspects of the technology allowing you to read this article was government funded. The US government and State of California funded the 2nd generation transistor (created at UC Berkeley) powering the chipset in your device. For example, relating to EVs, as we continuously watch the fire and explosion of Tesla automobiles because of a number of reasons, including spontaneous combustion, and phantom braking (the latest 8 car pileup caused by Tesla phantom breaking), faulty camera systems, broken suspension, or the autopilot system fails and crashes the car, leading to a battery explosion and long lasting fire, government funded companies, such as Safecore, a spin-out of American Lithium Energy (maker of silicon anode lithium ion batteries for the Dept of Defense and others) in Carlsbad, CA (this is a beautiful tech hub in North County San Diego), are focused to solve the problem that Elon Musk ignores., forcibly hides, and knowingly allowed to continue despite safety issues. As Frank Herbert, author of Dune, has said: “I wrote the Dune series because I had this idea that charismatic leaders ought to come with a warning label on their forehead: May be dangerous to your health.” The lying Elon Musk’s “hubris” is leading to a huge downfall of Tesla. Musk is a far-right nutjob whose antics are destroying the company, Tesla, that was built by Eberhard and Tarpenning. As Dan O’Dowd, a Caltech trained engineer and successful creator of safe software writes, we simply don’t know how dangerous the Tesla autos are because Tesla fails to release the necessary data to understand Tesla crashes. To help prevent battery failure and explosions, Stanford scientists have invented a new polymer lithium technology that appears to conduct and not explode even at high temperatures. Although what Musk has done to harm Tesla diminishes the image of the EV industry in general, since the days of Jimmy Carter’s creation of the DOE and his promotion of the solar industry (including solar panels on the White House), many have understood the importance of moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. President Carter is a Naval Academy trained nuclear engineer, who was called in to lead the team to diffuse North America’s first nuclear reactor meltdown, so he has had a deep understanding of energy systems and understood early-on the importance of solar. Experts world-wide agree, 100% of our energy can be renewable. However, when Reagan, a near-moron who dressed well, subsequently became president, he lacked this understanding and had the solar panels removed from the White House. Articles continue to be written and published in the popular media that disparage the move away from oil and gas, without the author disclosing his conflicts of interest, working for oil and nuclear companies such as Reliant Energy, Devon Energy, Energy Futures Holdings, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the American Petroleum Institute.
Despite Republicans failing to understand the importance of solar, solar technology would continue to be developed as the governments of Germany, Japan, and China would take the US-developed technology and commercialize it. Obama would restore a national energy plan that Carter had started. Thus, the energy needed to recharge batteries will come from a number of sources, including solar panels that were invented at government funded Bell Labs, and the lithium ion batteries were invented by groups of scientists at the State University of New York and the DOE, after the whole field of lithium ion electrochemistry was started at Berkeley Lab in California in the 1950s by Dr. Charles Tobias, Ph.D, chairman of Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley. New technologies and government policies are now bringing wind powered turbines to the deep offshore waters of the California coast. Offshore wind power is expected to be another important green energy for the state, and can now be realized in the deep waters of California due to new floating windmill technologies. EVs need computers to manage their electrical system, and the transistor in computers was invented at government supported Bell Labs and later commercialized in California with support from Caltech professor Dr. Arnold Beckman, Ph.D. The next generation transistor, the 3D transistor, commercialized by Intel, was invented at UC Berkeley by Dr. Chenming Hu, Ph.D. an immigrant from Taiwan who was educated at Berkeley. Constructing circuit boards composed of many transistors was made possible by another technology invented at Berkeley, the SPICE program that allowed integrated circuits to be analyzed so that they could be properly constructed. Now, scientists at UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz have discovered that solar panel canopies over California’s massive canal system have multiple positive effects, including more efficient solar panels due to the cooling effects of the water on the panels and also that shading the water leads to much less evaporation and more available water. Working with the universities, the state of California and its program called New Energy Nexus, and the Trulock Irrigation District, the private company Solar AquaGrid in Marin County is spearheading this new project. Project Nexus as it is called, is innovative and will be widely deployed over the coming years and feed efficient solar energy into battery storage systems throughout the state of California. In nearby Petaluma, the company Ciel & Terre is building floating solar panels. This technology is expected to become huge in places such as California and Florida with their vast number of waterways.
Now for something controversial. Near to Berkeley where the atom was first split, a start-up in Santa Clara called Oklo, is splitting the atom in a new type of fission reactor plant that the founders claim will be green. The nuclear waste from the atom splitting process will be recycled such that the waste is used again to make more energy. Led by MIT trained Dr. Jacob DeWitte, Ph.D., this new technology has much backing from the government and private investors. Real-world studies have found these reactors to not meltdown, even under adverse conditions. Oklo’s proposed nuclear plants are “very small” and don’t require water “to stay cool or safe. The fundamental safety of the technology was demonstrated to naturally shut itself down without radioactive release” If true, this is potentially a great source of energy until such time that fusion reactors become a reality.
A recent study from the University of California, Davis, finds that farmers may soon be able to harvest crops and energy together, on common ground. Researchers concluded that wavelengths within the visible light spectrum can be filtered and harnessed separately—blue lightwaves to generate solar power and red lightwaves to grow fruits and vegetables—to make maximum use of farmland, all while lowering heat stress and reducing crop waste. The renewable energy grid across the US is being built by companies such as EDF Renewables in San Diego. The have renewable grid projects throughout North America. Monitoring and protecting the grid and all that is attached to it is a company called Siloxit in Concord, and another named Gridware in Walnut Creek. They’ve developed sensors and communication methods to monitor the integrity of the grid. If the Siloxit technology finds a problem, ALD Technical Solutions of San Diego (ranked the 2nd most inventive city in the world) can fix it with their new composite repair technology. Their technology was developed with the help of CalTestBed, a California funded program at UC campuses to support the development of green energy. California’s universities are not only educating the high-tech workers for these industries, but are instrumental in developing and deploying new technologies. If you’re off the grid, Moxion in Richmond (part of the Berkeley-Oakland megaplex), can provide power with its battery-powered electric generators. Amazon and Microsoft are backing this technology. Another innovation occurring in solar panels is the development of transparent solar panels originally invented at MIT and Michigan State University and being commercialized by Ubiquitous Energy in Redwood City. Under intense study, imagine the enormous amount of energy that could be generated by these organic solar panels if they covered the many “glass skyscrapers” in our cities. And solar tiles for roofing applications are now being made by GAF Energy in San Jose (the most innovative city in the world). This is actual roofing solar technology that works, not the fraudulent solar tiles that Elon Musk was selling, for which he was taking $1,000 deposits. Fraud is the key to Musk’s financial success. “Tesla and Bitcoin may have more in common than you think,” writes Nobel Laureate, Dr. Paul Krugman, Ph.D. As Arwa Mahdawi has written about Musk, “He’s managed to position himself as a brilliant visionary who has devoted his life to saving human civilization. There is very little evidence to support this image when you look deeper but that hasn’t stopped an enormous number of people (mainly men) from buying into Musk’s bullshit.” Others have coined a new term for Musk and his bullshit: ““bullionaire,” an unusual purveyor of infantile jackassery, whose unfathomable wealth makes it possible, and even likely, that he’ll carry out even the most ridiculous plan.” Part of his bull is telling people Musk will land people on Mars in 2025, yet in 2023 his company can’t even properly test fire the engines on the rocket ship that is to land people on Mars 2 years henceforth. An enormous amount of capital and talent is flowing into the EV revolution. Unfortunately, too much of the capital is flowing into Tesla, where the high price of Tesla stock became what the Nobel laureate economist Dr. Robert Shiller, Ph.D. has called a “naturally occurring Ponzi process”, in which an asset rises in price because people hear that others are buying it, and the price comes to depend on more people joining the bottom of the pyramid. “Naturally occurring” may not describe the overpricing of Tesla stock. Instead, Musk used Twitter bots to artificially drive-up the price. While some people spend their days on Twitter pretending to have founded companies and created the company’s technology, many others are quietly doing that actual work. As examples, Blue Current in Hayward, California was founded by UC Berkeley professor Dr. Nitash Balsara, Ph.D. and Stanford professor Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D. with $30 million from Koch Strategic Platforms. They are pioneering a solid-state silicon technology for EV batteries, an alternative to the massive lithium ion battery industry. Koch has also funded ($90M) San Diego’s Wildcat Discovery Technologies, to develop a new EV “supercell” based on using novel battery materials discovered through its high throughput screening platform. In San Francisco, Aikido Technologies, is a start-up led by Dr. Sam Kanner, Ph.D., who attained his doctorate in engineering from UC Berkeley, works on developing wind turbine technologies for offshore deployment in the deep waters off the California Coast. A spin-out of the University of California, San Diego is Tyfast Energy, developing a new battery technology that uses vanadium anodes for faster-charging and longer-lived batteries. And in Berkeley, scientists from the Berkeley Lab founded a company, Poly Plus, making a new lithium solid state battery with a glass (thin and conducts ions) protected lithium anode that greatly increases charge density. SK Batteries, one of the largest battery producers, has partnered with Poly Plus to develop this new technology for their batteries. Another spin-out of Berkeley Lab, in adjacent Emeryville, is Sepion Technologies, a materials science company that has new membrane technology to protect lithium from degradation during charging and discharging. The world’s first technology incubator, Teknekron, was formed in Berkeley in 1968 by Harvey Wagner and Berkeley professor, Dr. George Turin. Their program of “guided entrepreneurship” led to the successful formation of many tech companies, and many young tech entrepreneurs who would go on to help build the “Silicon Valley,” the place that undergirds the EV revolution, which is anchored by Berkeley, whose graduates created Apple (Steve Wozniak), Intel (Gordon Moore), Google Earth (John Hanke), Marvell Technologies (Sehat Sutardja; developed in-car WiFi connectivity), Tesla (Marc Tarpenning), and Lucid Motors (Sam Weng), OpenAI (John Schulman, Ph.D.), and Stanford, whose graduates created Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and a UC Berkeley grad, Dr. Eric Schmidt, Ph.D, would bring it to preeminence), Nividia (Jensen Huang) and Hewlett-Packard (Bill Hewlett and David Packard), and OpenAI (Andrej Karpathy, Ph.D.). Key to EVs are the computers that control them. If interested in learning how UC Berkeley built the first university-based integrated circuit laboratory, pioneered the development of electronic microcircuits, so-called integrated circuits that make the EVs run, and developed the “interactive programming environment,” a computer programming language that allows the creator to make changes to the program while it is already running, important for spreadsheets and word processing for example, some of the key players at Berkeley are interviewed here. Continuing the tradition of UC Berkeley working with incubators, is the partnership of San Francisco’s Otherlab with UC Berkeley. Led by MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”) awardee, Saul Griffith, a number of innovative projects are underway.
Beyond the fact that CO2 and methane in the Earth’s atmosphere continues to rise and has reached it’s highest level in history, not to mention death-causing pollution such as PM2.5 (small, 2.5 micron particles that traverse through the lungs), weaning ourselves from vehicles powered by petroleum and gas is especially important during times when murderous dictators, such as Putin and even the Texas oilmen, lawyers, and bankers who support Putin, control much of the world’s hydrocarbons. The United States is estimated to provide a total of $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies every year to hydrocarbon companies. Regressive policies fueled by the wealth of big oil is killing our planet. Progress in fighting these fossil fuel companies is arising in California, with other progressive states, such as New York and Massachusetts, following. Companies, such as Frost Methane in Oakland, are using new technologies to destroy methane before it reaches the atmosphere. Pachama in San Francisco is using satellite imagery to monitor deforestation and then funds reforestation to efficiently capture CO2. Texas is the leading emissions producer in the US, accounting for 15% of greenhouse gases in 2019. And when companies in Texas, the most polluted state in the country, illegally pollute the state and are fined, often the money collected by the state is funneled back to the polluting company. Elon Musk is trying to make pollution in Texas worse by drilling for gas in the state, and by destroying a nature preserve in Boca Chica in violation of an FAA agreement, and for no reason other than to watch failed spaceships explode in an inane stated goal to colonize Mars. And, while Texas discourages, even punishes, companies who are moving to more sustainable energy practices, California promotes the movement of a clean energy industry. In addition to the Texas law that punishes companies, driving financial institutions away from Texas and driving-up costs in Texas’ cities, part of the regressive policies in Texas include their independent, deregulated power grid that frequently fails, not only killing people, but also shutting down businesses. Few electric cars are currently sold in Texas compared to California, but should Texans want to use EVs in the future, their grid will not support a significant move in that direction. Moving clean energy forward in the US has been and continues to be difficult in the face of conservative politicians, particularly in places like Texas that is hydrocarbon-centric, who receive dark money from these dirty corporations. As a new CNN documentary says, “Texas is one of only 10 states with no limitations on campaign donations to candidates, and as a result, a few wealthy donors with strong religious views have an outsized influence on the government.” In other words, rightwing, religious people who have made their money in the hydrocarbon business, largely run the state of Texas. In Texas, high taxes on the middle class, higher than in California, and few taxes on the wealthy, along with tax breaks and cash payments to wealthy corporations, means that the middle class pays for billionaires like Musk to come pollute the state of Texas and freeload off the middle class. The corporate neoliberal narrative is that California has taxes that are too high, and Texas does it right with low taxes. Sadly, the low taxes in Texas are for the rich people and their wealthy corporations, whereas the middle-class pays high taxes to support the rich. So woeful are the people in Austin that hundreds of people are fighting for food at the dumpsters behind grocery stores. Just the opposite occurs in California, where the middle-class pays lower taxes than in Texas, and the rich people and corporations pay higher taxes. This is just the way taxation worked in the days of Eisenhower and Kennedy, before Reagan’s tax breaks to the wealthy, when the US was the great innovation and manufacturing hub of the world. As economists who have analyzed these tax breaks for the rich have said, “In fact, if we look back into history, the period with the highest taxes on the rich — the postwar period — was also a period with high economic growth and low unemployment.” In return for his tax breaks from Texas, Musk pollutes Texas, including Austin, and provides lousy jobs to people, where they work 60-80 hrs per week at low wages. The corporate narrative wins in Texas. So stupefied are many middle-class Texans by the corporate, fascist (this means control of the many by a few) narrative, that they’ll arm themselves and cause an insurrection for the sake of those who control them- the wealthy individuals and corporations. Texas is a state full of Trump-loving, fascist-loving morons who have built themselves a hellish place to live. So lax are laws in Texas that once you buy a home, the builder can take it away from you if they see profit in doing so. In Austin, Texas, the residents are regularly required to boil their drinking water because of pollution. Musk will likely make a bad situation even worse. As an example of that dark, illegal money from Texas driving the hydrocarbon industry, the FBI charged Larry Householder, Ohio’s Republican Speaker of the House, with a conspiracy to pass a $1.5 billion bailout in return for $61 million in dark money. The racketeering was allegedly orchestrated by Householder and the utility FirstEnergy to kill Ohio’s renewable energy law and prop up aging coal and nuclear power plants. Billions of dollars from the American Petoleum Institute in Texas is used as dark money to purchase Republican politicians and a Republican appointed Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Republicans beclown Wyoming with a failed state bill to outlaw EVs – a bill they planned to mail to Gov. Newsom of California. In 2023, the Propane Education and Research Council plans to spend $13 million on its anti-electrification campaign, including $600,000 on “influencers” like Matt Blashaw, an HGTV host who blatantly endorses propane on his shows. Government policies initiated by Reagan that strip money from workers and allow wealthy corporations to accumulate piles of cash to consolidate their plutocracy continue. Despite the piles of cash funneled to Republicans from dirty energy companies, legacy automakers are now racing to catch the company that two engineers, Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning, founded in 2003, Tesla Motors (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eblPwXFb7TE). The two made a great combination given that Martin Eberhard had trained as a mechanical engineer at the Univ. Illinois, and Marc Tarpenning had trained as a computer scientist and electrical engineer at UC Berkeley (Berkeley fosters the 2nd highest number of entrepreneurs, 2nd only to Stanford in nearby Palo Alto). The combination of talents was perfect for developing an electric car. Working hard and quietly, not spending their days on Twitter, Eberhard and Tarpenning had the vision, created the company using their own money, developed the technologies that underly Tesla’s success (e.g. motors, electric battery packs, and gearing), and led the team that designed Tesla’s first two models. Martin and Marc had been influenced to build an electric car when they drove the iconic tzero built in San Dimas by AC Propulsion, an electric propulsion company led by a number of Caltech alumni. The work at Caltech on sustainability will grow exponentially in the coming years as the university’s new $750M Resnick Sustainability Center has broken ground. Had the erratic Elon Musk not been so wealthy and able to take control of Tesla, Eberhard and Tarpenning would have built a better car than what Tesla currently makes. As Sandy Munro has said, “If that car [Tesla] was made anywhere else, and Elon wasn’t part of the manufacturing process, they would make a lot of money.” In December of 2022, Musk seems to have realized to move out of the way at Tesla, saying: ”I continue to oversee both Tesla & SpaceX, but the teams there are so good that often little is needed from me.” Instead, Musk is now creating chaos at Twitter, and using the platform to support his fascist ideology. Musk is creating his biggest factory, similar to the “Fox News Bullshit Factory,” where behind the scene is much different than the money-making persona in the media. But morons will never know, because their sole source of “news” is from Fox. Examples of Musk’s bullshit factory include the multiple occasions Musk has aligned with the fascists controlling the Russian people, and returns to Twitter Neo-Nazi’s such as Andrew Anglin after they were previously banned. Those who oppose Musk’s ideals of plutocracy, are personally cancelled by Musk, their Twitter accounts suspended. Musk, the self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, removes links to stories that expose fellow fascists Jason Linkins has written, “Musk is what desperation for attention looks like at a plutocratic scale.” And what better vehicle than Twitter to garner attention. Continuing his egomania, Musk personally had the Twitter algorithms changed to increase the number of people seeing his tweets. And as Thomas Zimmer has written, “Musk’s actions are fully consistent with the worldview that dominates among far-right reactionary extremists.” More to the point, Musk is an asshole, who would best fit into Dr. Aaron James, Ph.D., a professor at the Univ of California, Irvine, category of “Smug Asshole.” As a modern day Robber Baron, Musk has people at Twitter’s HQ living in the offices and sleeping on the floors. Thank god that California doesn’t put up with this kind of abusive behavior by a plutocrat, the state that funded this plutocratic ingrate. Twitter is so bad now, over half of its advertisers have left the platform following Musk’s takeover. Musk’s right-wing behavior is tarnishing the image of Tesla and driving away Tesla customers. Although the Guardian has used a literary device to describe Musk, “Elon Musk is a Jekyll and Hyde character,” the Jekyll part of Musk is a disguise for fooling people into thinking that he is a caring person. According to Consumer Reports, a report on one of Mr. Hyde‘s products in 2021, Tesla ranked 27th out of the 28 auto brands for reliability. Sandy Munro, who takes apart and reverse-engineers cars to assess quality, issued a brutal appraisal of the Model 3 citing “flaws that we would see on a Kia in the ’90s.” He noted inconsistencies such as uneven gaps between exterior panels and paint job issues, saying “I can’t imagine how they released this.” One Tesla customer reported that his roof fell off. Others report the paint peeling off. A Tesla Plaid owner asked whether his $120,000 car was built by toddlers. The build quality of his car is unbelievably bad. Cold weather prevents Tesla cars from being charged and greatly decreases the cars driving range. The flaws in Tesla automobiles are even worse than stated by Sandy Munro. In Germany, all cars must be inspected by the TUV to make sure dangerous flaws don’t exist. Upon inspection by the TUV, Tesla cars are failing. One in ten Tesla cars inspected by the TUV are defective, the worst EV on the market. Structural problems have been found that may explain why Tesla cars can explode. One in 20 Tesla autos have had a serious no-start situation or a breakdown serious enough that it had to be taken off the road, and these “hellish” experiences continue to happen. Many have resorted to suing Tesla in an attempt to have their poorly made cars fixed, including reattaching the steering wheel that fell off while driving. Musk, in a hostile takeover, having stumbled into a PayPal fortune despite not working for and not being a founder of PayPal, gained control of Tesla and ruined what was once an innovative company making innovative cars. Musk would create a cult to hide the nonsense that he had orchestrated at Tesla. Now under Musk, Tesla “lacks a low carbon strategy” and “codes of business conduct,” along with racism and poor working conditions reported at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, led to the company being dropped from the S&P 500′s ESG index. Now that Musk has used government money from the US and California, taxpayer’s dollars, to monetize the company that others built, he doesn’t wish to share what we, the people, helped him to monetize. True to form, Musk moved Tesla from the land of innovation, California, to the land of where the technology was innovated elsewhere and monetized by Robber Barons, Texas. In Austin, TX, Musk will be able to exchange great ideas with fellow fascist, Alex Jones, Greg Abbott, and Trump-loving actor Matthew McConaughey, facilitated by the state’s leaders in Austin who support fascism. Mark Cuban is also there, the guy who bullshits everyone about how he is lowering the price of drugs. In reality, “the price quotes that patients see on the [Mark Cuban] website are higher than they’d get at their local pharmacy. ” Other fascist clowns, such as Peter Thiel, will set-up shop there and burn other people’s money in support of fellow fascists. Perhaps they’ll become faculty at the new University of Austin, an anti-woke universe of regressives, and possibly the only university in Texas without a football team. This is wasting capital that could have been used for useful purposes. Even the Attorney General in Texas is a fraud, so Musk should have little trouble continuing his schemes in Texas. Perhaps Musk can also confer with fellow fraudsters in Texas, such as the Enron clan in Houston, and the daughter of an Enron executive, Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes, a college dropout, was born in Houston, and learned well from daddy how to defraud people on a grand scale. Theranos was her baby. Her fraud was larger than Musk’s – at least Musk stole technology from others that really had market value. Between 2015 and 2019, about 2.3 million Texans moved out of Texas, and most went to California – these are mostly college educated people coming to work in California’s high tech job sector. In the same period, those moving to Texas were mostly not college educated and embraced conservative, fascists ideals. The state will become more regressive as the years pass, and will feature dodo companies such as Southwest Airlines (Dallas, TX) with its dirty jets and really stupid, antediluvian infrastructure that has stranded thousands of people for days, even weeks. And they keep stranding people, months later. In California, we’re happy to see conservative, fascists leave the state and join their fellow fascists in Texas. From 2010 to 2019, California attracted almost 400,000 more college graduates from other states than it lost, where the average wage is about $80.000/yr and rising in CA versus $57,000 in TX. This is good for Musk. In the tradition of his family owning emerald mines in Africa where slave labor is used, Musk can leverage Austin’s low minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, a non-livable wage in a very polluted city, in a very polluted state. Austin is the 5th most expensive large city in the US. Despite moving its headquarters to Texas, Tesla still greatly benefits from the policies and dollars that California lavishes upon Tesla, as the state promotes a green economy. Texas is a place where Musk will be able pay employees wages so low that he later apologizes for his contempt of workers and continues his polluting of the environment without consequence. Pollution is rampant in Texas, and Tesla will fit well into the lax environmental laws of Texas. Half of the waterways in Austin, Texas are contaminated with fecal matter. Tesla, in addition to swindling the taxpayers of Texas through overpromising benefits to the state, landing huge tax breaks, while underperforming, and having been given $50 million by the city of Austin to locate there, can join other companies that pollute Austin, leading to pollution problems such as orange water from household taps and the waterways unsafe for swimming. In Austin, Texas, environmental awards are given to companies who repeatedly dump toxic waste into Austin’s waterways. Anything goes as long as the state’s GDP is increased regardless of diminished quality of life. Perhaps Elon will find hydrocarbon deposits at the Round Rock factory and drill there. Having diesel powered back-ups is one of his tricks to fool his cult following. What Musk is doing matters, because he is using huge amounts of capital that could be otherwise used for sound and useful purposes. To better subvert free speech, and to self-promote and espouse libertarian values that enhance robber barons such as himself, Musk purchased Twitter and will take the company private. Once private and not a public company, the SEC no longer regulates the company and Musk can say and tweet robber baron proclamations without regulatory scrutiny, and block those who oppose him or his companies. That’s a major sales and marketing tool for Musk, and a loss for intellectual discourse within a public forum. Controlling Twitter is also a great platform for creating the false narrative that he, Musk, founded Tesla and created its technology. Like a mad dog, Musk has savaged Twitter for his own personal purposes, leaving the company in a shambles and desperate for advertisers. Someone should give Musk a copy of Dr. Dacher Keltner’s, “The Power Paradox” so that he can learn how power and money creates what Musk has become. Professor Keltner explains, “My own research has found that people with power tend to behave like patients who have damaged their brain’s orbitofrontal lobes (the region of the frontal lobes right behind the eye sockets), a condition that seems to cause overly impulsive and insensitive behavior.” Thanks to his impulsivity, another problem Musk has brought to Tesla is his obsession with the self-driving system, a “disaster waiting to happen.” Musk refuses to talk with government officials about the problem, and gets away with it. Sandy Munro has judged the Tesla self driving system to be “crap.” Every Tesla sold with FSD has been recalled because of crash risks. More hype from Musk includes his promotion of the 4680 lithium ion battery being produced for Tesla by Panasonic. This is a bigger battery cell than what is currently used, and Musk says it’s revolutionary. But the release of the 4680, like much of what Musk promises, has not materialized and the design may have major flaws, such as electrochemical instability (teardown shows abnormal salts throughout the battery cell’s interior) and unsafe levels of heat and rapid degradation. When Tesla purchased San Diego’s Maxwell Technologies in 2019, the superficially thinking Elon Musk apparently believed Maxwell’s methods were a quick fix to making the 4680, and promised the batteries would be in production in 2021. In the process, electrodes are coated using different binders that use much less liquid, meaning the electrodes don’t need to be dried, so the whole process is cheaper, faster, and less harmful to the environment. It’s now 2023, and the 4680 is not in production.
Further, as written in the Verge about the supposed robot that Musk has promised his cult followers, with “Musk, it’s difficult to parse the reality from the smokescreen of bullshit he tends to throw out.” Musk is a man who opines on many things he clearly doesn’t understand, such as declaring the Covid-19 pandemic would be over in April 2020. Thanks to the hard work of two engineers who don’t pretend to know everything, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, and despite Musk’s technical inabilities, but thanks to his con artist capabilities, a so-called “snake oil salesman” who builds a cult of followers using Twitter bots, last year, 2021, Tesla sold 936,000 vehicles, most of which were built in California. As Nobel Laureate, Dr. Daniel Kahnman, Ph.D. teaches us, “luck plays a large role in every story of success; it is almost always easy to identify a small change in the story that would have turned a remarkable achievement into a mediocre outcome.” Musk has been very lucky, starting with his birth into a wealthy family, followed by being associated with geniuses who have created technologies and companies from which he would prosper.
Solar energy the least expensive energy available today, will fuel this revolution by charging the batteries. Enphase, cofounded by Dr. Daniel Kammen, Ph.D, professor of energy at UC Berkeley, in Freemont was the first company to commercialize the micro-inverter, which convert the direct current (DC) power generated by a solar panel into grid-compatible alternating current (AC) at the individual panel level. Research at UC Berkeley has developed a new material for use in solar panels. The new ferroelectric material – which is grown in the lab from cesium germanium tribromide (CsGeBr3 or CGB) – opens the door to an easier approach to making solar cell devices. Unlike conventional solar materials, CGB crystals are inherently polarized, where one side of the crystal builds up positive charges and the other side builds up negative charges, no doping required. This sets-up an electrical field, needed to generate electricity from the incident sunlight. Because most of the population of California lives near the coast in a mild climate, and because California is much more energy efficient than the rest of the US thanks to state energy programs, more of the state’s energy can be devoted to production rather than simple cooling or heating (such as Austin, Texas where it freezes in the winter and scalds in the summer at 110 deg F with high humidity). To be clear, every kilowatt of energy produced and used is done much more efficiently in California than in other states because of CA state regulations that support energy efficiency. These regulations help to propel businesses in California and are part of the reason why California is the leader in innovation. The electric revolution, moving away from hydrocarbons, includes electric stoves and ranges. In Berkeley, Channing Street Copper Company has an induction range/stove that plugs into a standard 110V outlet. Induction stoves work much better than gas stoves. Chefs love induction cooking because of the extremely fast heating and precise heat control and moving away from gas appliances will cut down on cancer-causing chemicals leaking into your house, and greatly increase energy efficiency of cooking. Restoring old homes, and taking advantage of the older home’s energy efficient design before the days of modern AC and heating systems, is CarbonShackDesign in Los Angeles. Moving away from petroleum is Checkerspot in Alameda, whose motto is, “Algae In, Petroleum Out.” This is a materials science company, whose starting material is algae, a renewable resource. If you’re downhilling above Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in all of the Americas, you may be on skis made from algae. Commercial jets are now flying with the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Aviation is a leading polluter. The world’s first and North America’s only commercial-scale SAF production facility is just south of Los Angeles, in Paramount. Besides the large California companies, such as Chevron, start-up companies such as Aemetis, in Cupertino, and Indaba, in Newport Beach, are developing new technologies to produce SAF. According to Lauren Riley at United, SAF had been mixed into the fuel of every United flight that had departed from Los Angeles International Airport since 2016. Helping businesses and other organizations to build their projects to the energy codes is a non-profit called, CodeCycle, in Oakland, funded by CalSeed and providing a suite of online tools for builders. In San Diego, PowerFlex, has developed a proprietary line of software and hardware that integrates and optimizes onsite solar and EV charging, centralizing the control, data collection, and reporting into a single digital platform. Massive solar energy products are underway in California. For example, Clearway Energy Group in San Francisco is developing a project with 482 MW of solar power and 394 MW of energy storage capacity in San Bernadino. To put this value into perspective, 1 megawatt of solar power generates enough electricity to meet the needs of 164 U.S. homes (so the project powers close to 80,000 homes). Deployment of small green energy solutions, including solar, wind, and battery storage for individual use has been commercialized by Primo Energy in San Diego. One of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the US is Qcells in San Francisco. In Oakland, California, a startup called Leap Photovoltaics is working on a redesigned solar cell that could cut the cost of manufacturing in half. Solar generators to replace diesel generators are built by King Solarman in Ontario, CA. As these solar panels age and need to be recycled, start-up SolarCycle in Oakland, working initially with solar provider, Sunrun of San Francisco, will bring these used panels into the circular economy. Another example of the robust efforts world-wide to recycle solar panels is Silicon Specialists in Hayward, CA. Notably, they offer a silicon wafer reclaiming process, i.e., the recycling of silicon wafers. The manufacture of solar panels is becoming more efficient, resulting in less waste of precious materials, by a new cutting process developed by Stanford spinout, Halo Industries, in Santa Clara. They’ve been funded by the California Energy Commission and the US Dept of Energy. Higher efficiency and reduced cost of installation on uneven terrain has been accomplished by a new compressed air suntracking system developed by Sunfolding in Alameda. The power of solar to electrify our grids was recently demonstrated by California when 100% of the state’s energy was derived from clean energy, mostly solar, sources on April 30, 2022. In 1995, the US made about 40% of solar panels worldwide, but today it’s about 5%. Technologically advanced solar companies in the US, such as Solyndra in San Jose, would lose market share and go bankrupt as Republicans in the US Congress failed to support our companies when the Chinese dumped cheap, subsidized solar panels on the market. Once the Chinese force the US solar companies into bankruptcy, it’s the Chinese who then buy the companies to acquire their technology and expertise. The Chinese continue to drive US companies into bankruptcy as Republicans continue to believe in something that doesn’t exist, namely “free markets.” This continues to happen today. Also in San Jose, Auxin Solar, a manufacturer of solar panels, acting through a petition to the Dept. of Commerce, continues to fight unfair Chinese government supported solar panel manufacturers. Although the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have placed tariffs on Chinese solar panels, the Chinese skirt these tariffs by selling their panels in the US through shell companies located in non-tariff countries. An easy bolster to US manufacturing, including solar panels, would be the Build Back Better bill in Congress, which won’t be passed because of Republicans along with Senator Joe Manchin who continue to allow the Chinese to surpass the US in technological capabilities. As an example, the US government has solar powered vehicles on Mars, including a flying helicopter, remotely controlled from Earth, while billionaire-led space companies, subsidized by NASA technology and by diminution of the billionaire’s taxes, recreate what NASA did 60 years ago, putting men into suborbital space. The transfer of economic output of the US from government technology programs to billionaire technology programs, where billionaires take polluting joyrides into suborbital space occurs as the Chinese government, using the old US playbook where taxes drive new technologies, new companies, and new industries, means that the Chinese now have their own space station, a successful lunar lander, and a space ship orbiting Mars. More to the point, the Chinese government has positioned their country into a place of EV dominance by supporting its home industries and leveraging the continued weakness of US Republicans to understand how to build and support, for the long-term, US industries. As the US has embraced Reaganomics, China has embraced the successful economics that Eisenhower and Kennedy used to build the world’s most advanced country. Sadly, the US can no longer even build the most advanced semiconductor chipsets as Reagan failed to support the building of new advanced fabs in the US, while Japan did. The trend continued until President Biden announced government funding to the US semiconductor industry to regain our lead in semiconductor manufacturing and design. EVs, and many things electronic, don’t work without advanced semiconductor chipsets. For example, Tesla uses chips from Intel and AMD, and Nvidia has their new Drive Hyperion platform – all are located in the Silicon Valley. The “government is not the solution, it is the problem,” and “I don’t want intellectuals in my government” mindset espoused by Reagan, and taken to heart by right-wing shibboleths, would allow the Japanese, Germans, and Chinese to overtake the US in most areas of high tech. Want the world’s most advanced semiconductors, go to Taiwan or South Korea. Want solar panels, go to China. Want lithium ion batteries, go to Japan (Panasonic makes the batteries for Tesla). And for innovation, as a country, Germany is the leader. The Reaganesque euphemism for allowing US high tech manufacturing to move overseas in quest of quick bucks would be, “we’re building a knowledge-based economy.” Dr. Andy Grove, Ph.D., the successor at Intel to Dr. Gordon Moore, Ph.D., Intel’s founder, both of whom were educated in chemistry at Berkeley, warned us many times about this “knowledge-based economy” nonsense. The importance of manufacturing was told to us back in 1987 when two Berkeley professors, Stephen S. Cohen and John Zysman, published their treatise on the subject, “Manufacturing Matters: The Myth of the Post-Industrial Economy.” Once a country loses its high-tech manufacturing base, it forgets how to do most things, and loses its ability to innovate and scale in a new marketplace. The spoils go to those who retain a competitive manufacturing base, and that is now overseas for many high tech industries. This is important to not only semiconductors for EVs, but also for EV batteries, where the US-invented lithium ion battery is now dominantly manufactured in Asia. US companies have focused on return-on-investment (not investing in capital intensive manufacturing) and the stock market for rapid gains, and lost sight of the long-term benefits to investing in manufacturing of what they design. As Robinson Meyer writes in the Atlantic, “the era of passive, hands-off government is over.” Although it was never embraced in California, and that’s why the CA economy leads the nation, the 40 years stupidity of Reagan’s “government is the problem” is coming to end with Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.
Bolstering the slouching US, is the state of California where the state had more than 222,000 business startups from January 2020 through March 2021 – more than Texas and Florida combined. During this period, California accounted for nearly 16% of the country’s new business starts. If California were a country, the state would be the world’s greatest innovator, but the rest of the US drags down what could be. Why does California lead the nation in innovation? One important reason is the world’s greatest university system, the University of California, the world’s leader in new patents. Remember, government funding creates whole new industries, such as the biotech industry when the DOE funded Nobel Laureate Dr. Donald Glaser, Ph.D. at UC Berkeley to create the world’s first biotech company, Cetus Corporation, in Berkeley CA. That was back in 1971 before Reagan’s anti-government mentality hit the US. From the company would arise not only PCR (invented at Cetus by UC Berkeley-trained chemist, Dr. Kerry Mullis, Ph.D., a Nobel Laureate), the technology underlying many scientific advances, and many of the Covid-19 diagnostic tests, but the whole biotech industry would emerge in California and then spread to Boston and the rapidly growing San Diego area (biotech and tech sectors), the fourth biggest startup hub in the US. In the third leading startup hub in the US, behind San Francisco and New York, Los Angeles, government funding would create the internet, beginning at the University of California, Los Angeles. That was 1969, before Reagan’s “government is the problem, not the solution” mentality hit US Republicans. Thanks to recent, beginning in the 80s under Reagan, deregulation, privatization, and a drastic reduction in taxation of corporations and the wealthy, great mansions would be built in the US, but building innovation would be transferred overseas as the wealthy monetize what taxpayers helped to build. For many more examples of what government has brought us, read Dr. Mazzucato.
Those government funded solar panels aren’t the only way to collect solar energy. In Pasadena, Department of Energy-funded Heliogen is using AI-controlled mirrors to concentrate the solar energy to produce heat and other forms of power such as hydrogen. Also in Pasadena, a consortium of California universities, the Liquid Sunlight Alliance, led by CalTech is working on the molecular capture of solar energy in liquids. Stay tuned on this – even the conformational change of a molecule in liquid is a means to store energy for later use. And solar power generated in space and beamed back to Earth may become a reality in the decades ahead. Caltech has a project to do just that, and tests in space are currently underway. The electricity generated in space may be transferred to the Earth’s surface using LASER technology. Hopefully, the current group of Republican yahoos, funded by oil companies, and much like their Trump and Tea Party anti-science GOP members of a decade ago, won’t cut funding of this program and allow the Germans and Chinese to be the ones to commercialize US-developed technology. Bringing new meaning to the phrase, “A Star is Born,” other new technologies, such as fusion power, will help make the energy to charge batteries like that being developed by TAE Technologies, spun-out of the University of California, Irvine, in Foothill Ranch, California. TAE uses different reactants than what others use. The reactants they have successfully used, hydrogen and boron, are abundant in nature, non-toxic and non-radioactive, and the reaction itself produces no neutrons, only helium in the form of three alpha particles. In close-by Irvine where Kronos Fusion Energy is located, at MIFTI located in nearby Tustin, and at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, CA. True to form, the government lab in Livermore, California is the first reactor in the world to produce net fusion. According to Dr. Tammy Ma, Ph.D., who earned her doctorate in physics from UCSD and is a staff scientist at the University of California’s Livermore lab, a temperature hotter than the Sun, indeed the hottest temperature in the Solar System, was achieved during that machine-driven ignition event. This is an important milestone, giving evidence that a commercial fusion reactor for the generation of electricity is possible. Xcimer Energy in Redwood City is leveraging the technology developed at the Livermore lab, as is Longview Fusion Energy Systems in nearby Orinda. Led by Dr. Edward Moses, Ph.D., former director of the National Ignition Facility, Longview is planning to build a test facility within 5 years. In Berkeley, Helicity Space is developing fusion energy power systems, including for space ships. However, much engineering will be required, years of work, before commercial applications can be realized. Fusion reactors will create energy in the same way stars do, without toxic waste, and produce the electrical power in the coming years (about 2035 according to the Natl Academies of Sciences) needed to recharge the batteries of electrical vehicles. Some of the obstacles to be overcome in a commercially viable fusion reactor have been discussed, and include parasitic power consumption. General Atomics, in San Diego, has been doing fusion research since the 1950s, and, along with such things as making nuclear-powered spaceships, makes many of the key components , including magnets, for the reactors. On Oct 20, 2022, General Atomics announced it was building a new fusion reactor, likely in the San Diego Area, in cooperation with the DOE. The infrastructure for these clean energy storage systems is now being built using 3D concrete printing techniques developed by RCAM Technologies in Los Angeles. Parenthetically, 3D printing is making great gains in many industries, including rocket engines and rocket ships as exemplified by Relativity Space in Long Beach, led by two University of Southern California engineering grads, Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone. Autonomous, electric construction equipment to finish these projects is being made by Canvas in San Francisco. The physical layout of the construction site can now be made, more accurately and much faster, using an EV made by Dusty Robotics in Santa Clara. Other promising energy generating technologies include Low Energy Nuclear Reactions as explained by chemist Dr. Robert Tanzella (who trained at UC Berkeley Chemistry and was a scientist at SRI International in Menlo Park), currently being developed for commercialization at Brillouin Energy in Berkeley, CA. As I understand it, Brillouin Energy is using an electrolytic reaction that use hydrogen and palladium, and has been found to yield excess energy levels of between 30-400%. Another technology to store excess energy from solar and wind sources is carbon capture of thermal energy, being pioneered by Antora Energy in Sunnyvale. If you need to quantify the thermal conductance in your thermal energy storage device, look no further than Quantum Design in San Diego. Working to make solar panels more efficient by capturing and storing heat energy in the solar panels is Icarus RT in San Diego. In San Carlos, Swift Solar, founded by Drs. Joel Jean, Ph.D and Max Hoerantner, Ph.D., who trained in electrical engineering and physics, is developing perovskite solar cells instead of silicon solar cells for more efficient solar panels. And wind power is now benefitting from new vertical wind turbines by California Energy & Power in Ontario, California. Their wind turbines are more efficient than previous designs and can be easily and safely deployed close to the end user. Uprise Energy in San Diego is designing and manufacturing portable wind turbine-battery systems for mobile deployment. Among others, the US military is backing their technology. A long duration zinc bromine flow battery for the grid, called the EnergyPod, is being developed to store renewable energy by Primus Power in Hayward, CA. In San Jose, Lyten , a highly regarded battery manufacturer, is developing lithium-sulfur batteries for storage and mobility. Cuberg in San Leandro has just announced its new non-flammable lithium ion battery that is particularly designed for aircraft. In Mountain View, Mitra Chem, led by Caltech and Stanford grads, is using machine learning to create new cathode materials that combine iron with other metals, such as manganese, to increase the energy density of lithium ferro-phosphate (LFP) batteries. And, of course, green hydrogen is another means by which energy will be produced and used to charge batteries. NASSCO, in San Diego, is one of the nation’s leading shipyards specializing in the construction and repair of commercial and military ships and has now begun to manufacture wind energy systems at sea.
Hydrogen has the highest energy density of any fuel and is considered a solution for ground transportation, aircraft, and marine vessels. However, hydrocarbon fuel outperform compressed hydrogen gas in terms of volumetric energy density, motivating the development of alternative, higher-density materials-based storage methods. Scientists at the University of California have recently created a new means for high density hydrogen storage. When commercialized, this solves the problem of volumetric energy density. Electric Hydrogen in San Mateo makes the equipment to produce green hydrogen. Verdagy in beautiful Moss Landing, New Hydrogen in Santa Clarita, and Bloom Energy in San Jose, founded by a NASA scientist who developed fuel cells for spacecraft, Dr. KR Sridhar who has a Ph.D in Nuclear Engineering, are using electrolyzer technology to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Among other projects, Bloom Energy has recently set-up a green energy system to turn cow waste into renewable electricity at Bar 20 Dairy Farms in Kerman, CA. Maas Energy Works in Redding converts manure to biofuels. The system combines a methane digester, gas clean-up skid, and Bloom Energy fuel cells for an end-to-end, waste-to-electricity solution. Located in Escondido (San Diego County), Acuacycl has a system that produces energy as it cleans wastewater. In San Francisco, Charm Industrial uses the roughly 110 billion tons of CO₂ that cycles out of the atmosphere via photosynthesis every year, and that normally returns to the environment by respiration (e.g. rotting) and fires. Charm takes advantage of the CO₂ capture work that plants are already doing, by sourcing sustainable biomass as an input into their pyrolyzers to make bio-oil. Dr. Wilson Hago, a physical chemist, has created Hago Energetics, located in Thousand Oaks, to use carbon capture technology to make green hydrogen from biomass waste. In San Diego, Oberon Fuels is converting waste to low- and negative carbon fuels, including hydrogen. From “Stump to Pump” is the motto of Yosemite Clean Energy in Mariposa. They make green hydrogen and biofuels from organic waste. Mote Inc in Los Angeles is making hydrogen from wood waste, and injecting the CO2 waste into the deep layers of the geological formations that underlie Kern County’s oil fields. AirCapture in San Francisco captures carbon from the air onsite during industrial processes that emit carbon, and use the captured carbon in the industrial process. AirMyne, a startup in Berkeley, is using acid-base chemistry to capture carbon from the air. Also in Berkeley, Carbon6 captures CO2 from seawater and processes it into Calcium carbonate. San Francisco’s Heirloom enhances a natural process, called carbon mineralization, to help minerals absorb CO2 from the ambient air in days, rather than years in the natural process. Also in San Francisco, Noya retrofits cooling towers to capture carbon. In Southern California, Manhattan Beach’s CarbonBuilt is producing concrete with captured carbon. In nearby Pasadena, CarbonCapture builds machines that sequester carbon from the atmosphere. A game changer in carbon capture may be a new technology invented at Berkeley by Dr. Omar Yaghi, professor and head of the new institute at Berkeley, The Bakar Institute of Digital Materials for the Planet (BIDMaP). The new institute will develop cost-efficient, easily deployable versions of two classes of ultra porous materials – known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and covalent organic frameworks (COFs) – to help limit and address the impacts of climate change by capturing carbon. Farther south, CarbonBlade in San Diego is is using a combined wind turbine and electrochemical process to extract CO2 from the air. Even the big oil company, Chevron, in San Ramon (near Oakland) is making green energy through several programs, including anerobic fermentation of manure to make natural gas in Chowchilla, CA. Calwave, a spin-out of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab and its Cyclotron Road incubator, is harnessing the constant power of ocean waves. All of these technologies, along with solar from companies such as Spectrolabs in Sylmar and NanoSolar in San Jose, likely have a place in generating clean energy for charging EV batteries. Companies such as 8 Minute Solar in Los Angeles implement the latest technologies into solar systems that include battery storage. While lithium ion batteries are dominant in the EV application, and new lithium ion battery technologies, such as a new mechanical wave technology from UCSD spinout, SonoCharge in San Diego, other battery technologies may also work well, and complement lithium ion. For example, Enzinc located at the UC Berkeley Richmond Station in Richmond CA, has developed a new 3D sponge technology that allows zinc to be safely and efficiently used as the battery’s ion. While lithium may have a greater energy density than does zinc, the zinc sponge battery has less energy loss than the lithium ion batteries. Enzinc is funded by the CalSEED program, which is The California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development Initiative, a $24m grant program created to help early stage California clean energy startups bring their concepts and prototypes to market. CalSEED is administered by CalCEF Ventures, in Oakland, on behalf of the California Energy Commission. Sodium ion batteries have already been commercialized by Natron Energy in Santa Clara, and a sodium all solid-state battery system is being developed by Unigrid in San Diego. In San Francisco, NDB is developing self-charging batteries, the so-called Nano Diamond Battery, that is powered by recycled nuclear waste. CO2 is produced to some degree in most manufacturing processes, including green manufacture of solar panels. Other means to store solar energy include using compressed air, being developed by Kepler Energy Systems in Sacramento. To capture the CO2 that is generated during manufacturing of these technologies, Twelve, located in Berkeley, has a process that is capturing carbon from CO2 in the air for use in making industrial chemicals, part of the circular economy. Twelve has recently received $130 million to scale-up their technology. And in nearby Pleasanton, Kiverdi, led by Dr. Lisa Dyson, a physicist at Berkeley Labs, is using carbon capture to make a number of commercial products, including food at its subsidiary, Air Protein. California Culture in Sacramento is culturing coffee and chocolate to prevent destruction of the rainforests, major ecosystems that capture carbon, and Transparentsea in Los Angeles sustainably produces pollution-free shrimp using culture techniques. Carbon capturing algae is used to make a substitute for plastic, algae pellets, by Loliware in San Francisco. Green, synthetic fuel is being made by Prometheus Fuels in Santa Cruz using carbon capture, with a large investment from BMW and venture capital, while algae is being used for carbon capture to make synthetic fuel by Viridos in San Diego, with manufacturing plants at the Salton Sea. Spun out of UCLA is CarbonBuilt in Los Angeles, using carbon capture to make concrete. And in San Carlos, Ebb Carbon uses an electrochemical technique to draw carbon from the air and sink it into the ocean. Incubated at UC Merced is Sierracrete, making building materials from wood waste. Organic waste is converted to hydrogen by Kore in Los Angeles, and also in Los Angeles, stuff in the dump goes to the pump when Wasteful converts garbage to fuel. Electrolysis equipment for some of these carbon capture technologies is made by Aepnus in Oakland, founded by two Berkeley alum. Of all the energy used in industry, about three-quarters is in the form of heat, while only one-quarter today is electricity. Industrial heat comprises about 20% of total global energy demand. Heat batteries made by Rondo in Oakland and by Antora in Sunnyvale are a means to generate heat for industrial plants. By concentrating energy from solar and wind, heat is generated and stored in massive stacks of bricks for use over a period of hours, even days. All of these companies generate and utilize massive amounts of data, from R&D, production, supply chain management, and sales and marketing. A number of companies in California, such as Teradata in San Diego, serve to manage those data sets.
Many EV manufacturers call the state of California home, including the four different Tesla factories in the Fremont area, currently covering a floor area of almost 7,000,000 sq/ft (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Tesla_factories), the Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne (near Los Angeles), and plans to greatly expand even more in California. The electric motors themselves are becoming more efficient for many reasons, including additive manufacturing technologies that replace coil winding in the motors, produced by Elmworks in Berkeley. Energy management systems for these EVs is critical to their performance and has been developed for many of the cars, including Tesla, by AutoMotivePower in Los Angeles. Some of the other EV companies include Lucid in the Silicon Valley. The Lucid Air, with over 500 miles range on one charge, was awarded Motor Trend’s 2022 Car of the Year. Lucid uses a Nvidia, located in Santa Clara, chipset to implement its self-driving technology. Peter Rawlinson is the CEO of Lucid, having left Tesla, where he was VP of Vehicle Engineering before leaving because of Elon Musk’s bizarre behavior and huge ego. Mr. Musk creates competition for Tesla by bleeding talent. Parenthetically, Musk is not only not the founder of Tesla or PayPal as he claims, but also not the founder of reusable rockets. Masten Space Systems in Mojave, CA first developed reusable rockets, which captured the imagination of Musk (at 4 min into the video, the reusable rocket is shown). Masten is currently developing a lunar lander for NASA along with a GPS system for the moon. Model rocket maker, BPS.Space in Los Angeles, also makes rockets using thrust vectoring that can land the rocket. Faraday Future in Los Angeles, who has their manufacturing plant in Hanford, CA, which is on the California High Speed Rail line, is expected to begin production Q3 2022. California’s high speed rail, will be all electric, and the cars will be built in Sacramento by Siemans Mobility, which builds hybrids and all-electric trains. Faraday Forward is led by Dr. Carsten Breitfeld, a doctor of engineering and founder of Byton and former VP of engineering at BMW. As one might expect of a company led by a doctor of engineering from Germany with experience at BMW, the Farady Future is technologically advanced, more so than the Tesla vehicles, well engineered, and has been reviewed very favorably by industry technologists. Unfortunately, this company has had a poor Board and is unlikely to succeed. Faraday did complete its first production vehicle on April 15, 2023, so time will tell how well it does. Some of the other EV companies include Zoox in Foster City, an autonomous city car that is currently operating on the streets of California and expanding with new offices in San Diego, Karma Motors with its design center and manufacturing in Moreno Valley, Rivian in Irvine with its highly rated truck (the aforementioned Sandy Munro loves this truck so much that he bought one) and another company in Irvine is Alpha with its much talked about Wolf, Fisker in Manhattan Beach (they’ve just announced a joint venture with Ample, of San Francisco, to launch EVs with swappable batteries in 2024), Mullen Automotive in Brea, Eli Electric Vehicles in Long Beach, Indie EV in Vernon, Edison Future in Anaheim, Seres in Santa Clara, truck makers XOS in Los Angeles, Motiv in Foster City, Battle Motors in Venice, Boulder Electric Vehicles in Chatsworth and Vantage Vehicle in Corona, Green Power Motor Company in Los Angeles building purpose specific trucks, such as school buses, Taylor-Dunn in Anaheim building electric utility vehicles, and TransPower in Escondido (San Diego County) building electric propulsion systems for commerical trucks. XOS is supplying many partners with Class 5 through 8 trucks. Indie EV of Los Angeles is planning to release their crossover in 2023. Brightdrop, a last-mile electric truck manufacturer launched by General Motors is located in Palo Alto. Electric buses are made by El Dorado National in Riverside. In Torrance, US Hybrid specializes in designing and manufacturing zero-emission powertrain components for electric, hybrid and fuel cell medium and heavy-duty municipality vehicles, commercial trucks, buses and specialty vehicles worldwide. Facilitating commercial electric trucking is WattEV in Long Beach. Their infrastructure offerings include truck stops for the EVs and electric truck swapping for long-haul deliveries. Phoenix Motorcars in Anaheim builds medium duty electric trucks and forklifts, and in Foster City, Motiv Power Systems converts medium duty trucks to EVs. Wrightspeed in Alameda, founded by Ian Wright, who helped to found Tesla, converts ICE trucks into EVs. In Harbor City, Balquon is building large drayage EVs, buses, and EVs for use at ports. Although Canoo was founded in Torrance, and still maintains engineering facilities there, the company moved to Arkansas (bad move given Arkansas is the 4th worst state to live) after it received funding from investors in that state. Wiggins Lift in Oxnard, working with XOS, is making commercial electric lifts. Making a successful auto company is difficult and capital intensive, and many will not succeed. Canoo is likely one that will fail. Aptera in San Diego and Humble Motors in Los Angeles both build solar/battery designed EVs. Aptera’s solar car uses a radical design, including a fuselage-like body to reduce aerodynamic drag, and 3 wheels with motors at the wheels to reduce mechanical friction. If you live in beautiful San Diego, where the Aptera is made, the sun shines almost everyday for at least some part of the day- meaning you’ll never need to plug-in your car because the solar panels do the charging. If you do need to plug-in your EV, a spin-out of CalPoly San Luis Obispo (located in a beautiful coastal city), NeoCharge, has made a device that allows people to install their own homecharging system without an expensive, specialized panel. Ampere Motors of Santa Monica offers three-wheel electric vehicles. EV companies also include the bus makers BYD and Proterra in SoCal, and Gillig in Hayward, heavy-duty electric trucks are designed and built by Trans Power in Escondido (San Diego County), electric RVs by San Francisco-based Lightship, electric tractor makers Soletrac in Santa Rosa, Monarch Tractor (a CNBC top 50 disruptor) in Livermore, and ZTractor in Palo Alto, small electric commercial vehicles made by Karrior Transelectric in Gardena and by Biliti Electric in Culver City, motorcycle makers Zero Motorcycles in Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz area), Onyx in El Segundo, and Lightning in San Jose, and Ryvid in the Los Angeles area, with manufacturing in San Bernardino and battery production in El Cajon. Small last-mile delivery bikes are made by URB-E in Los Angeles, VEO in Santa Monica, an e-scooter and e-bike-sharing startup, Razor making escooters in Cerritos, Boosted making electric skateboards and skooters in San Rafael, Electric Bike Co in Costa Mesa, Himiway in Los Angeles and Bird Bike in Santa Monica making electric bicycles, Eglide making electric skateboards in Santa Monica, and Siemans Mobility in Sacramento building electric trains in a solar powered factory. Parallel Systems in Culver City, CA, is working on electric trains that are fully automated. Need to deliver a package locally, but don’t have time to drive the package to its destination? Faction, in South San Francisco has a small driverless car that can do it for you. Nuro of Mountain View has also commercialized a robotic delivery vehicle, and the next time you order a pizza for home delivery, Nuro may be the carrier. In Los Angeles, Coco has developed a small battery powered delivery cart for local use (seen here delivering pizzas in Austin, TX), while Serve Robotics in Redwood City has a similar technology. Also in Redlands is ERSI, a company that is the world leader in mapping software, something crucial to those electronic maps in your car and to self driving systems that must have well-mapped environments through which they are driving. Udelve in Burlingame has developed a fully autonomous EV for multiple deliveries, which is in operation in San Mateo. Cruise in San Francisco is building the Cruise Origen, a self-driving city automobile. The Cruise vehicle is now, as of June 2022, in commercial operation in its hometown of San Francisco. Cruise robotaxis are operating day and night in San Francisco, with their operations in Austin and Phoenix expected to run 24 hours a day sometime soon. In nearby Moutain View, electric, autonomous robots are made by Knightscope for security purposes. And, if you need a custom designed electric vehicle, including battery design and powertrain, Evolectric in Long Beach can do it for you. Slip on your Rothy’s of San Francisco driving shoes, made of recycled plastic water bottles or your Blueview shoes, created by UC San Diego professors, made from algae that are fully recyclable, for the next car. Sit down in the seats of the car made from sustainable, energy efficient methods utilizing fungi. Bolt Threads in Emeryville was founded by 2 UCSF and 1 UC Berkeley grad, and is currently commercializing leather-like materials made from mycelium. Some of the plastics in the car may be made from seawood, in a carbon negative process, by Sway in San Leandro. If an EV supercar, capable of well over 200 mph is what you need, Drako Motors in San Jose can build it for you. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Open Motors is focusing on the MaaS market. Mobility as a Service, where cars are made for and sold to large fleet companies, such as Uber Technologies in San Francisco, and not at the retail level, is forecast to be a huge, perhaps, dominant market. Even legacy automakers, such as Mercedes-Benz , BMW, Volkswagon, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Porsche, Volkswagon, Volvo, Hyundai, and Ford have major EV research centers in the Silicon Valley, as well as in San Diego County where Mercedes designed their Vision EQXX and Nissan does design work, and in Pasadena where General Motors has a new design center. BMW just opened a new design center in Santa Monica, Feb. 2023. The venture capital group of BMW, BMW i Ventures, is also located in the Silicon Valley, and one of the key BMW design studios, called Designworks, is located in Los Angeles. Bosch of Germany, has a research center for batteries and electronics in the Silicon Valley. IBM Research- Almaden, in San Jose, works on sustainable EVs, including new battery technologies. While Apple’s Tim Cook has said an Apple Car is being developed, and rumors say it will be launched in 2024 or 2025, no details have been forthcoming. Google has also been working on its own car for over a decade, and Waymo, located in Mountain View, is now Google’s self-driving car company. Their self-driving cars are now operating in San Francisco. Watch a Waymo autonomous vehicle navigate the most beautiful big city in the US, San Francisco. Waymo’s robotaxi service continues to expand in San Francisco and Phoenix. They also have self-driving trucks through their program called Waymo Via. PlusAI in Cupertino, is a self-driving technology company that was recently named to Fast Company’s list of most innovative companies. Semiconductors for applications in self driving cars such as GPS navigation, integrated entertainment ecosystem and anti-collision radar, are made by psemi in San Diego. TuSimple in San Diego, led by Dr. Xiaodi Hou, awarded a Ph.D. from CalTech in Neural and Computer Systems, has developed self driving cargo trucks (Class 8) that currently operate between Dallas and Phoenix. Kodiak Ai in Mountain View, has commercial autonomous trucks running between Dallas and Atlanta. Note, these autonomous big-rigs are hydrocarbon powered for long-haul applications given that long-range, heavy-load EV trucks are not commercially viable with current technology. Shorter-haul applications using Class 8 electric trucks are well served by companies such as XOS in Los Angeles. These commercial trucks are aerodynamically inefficient at highway speeds where 65% of energy expended is air friction. With a 2021 IPO valued at over $8.5 billion and the only company operating self driving trucks carrying cargo, TuSimple has been viewed as a leader in automated driving. However, a recent accident, where a TuSimple truck veered into a center median, has the company under investigation by the NHTSA. The company says the problem was human error, having incorrectly programmed the onboard computer. Embark in San Francisco, Aurora in Mountain View, which has partnerships with Volvo Trucks and Paccar Inc., the parent of Kenworth and Peterbilt, and Plus in Cupertino are also self-driving cargo truck companies. GUSS in Kingsburg, part of the California central valley that produces about 25% of the food in the US, makes automated farm spraying vehicles. In San Francisco, Built Robotics and Safe AI in Santa Clara, build autonomous construction vehicles. The largest test facility in the US for autonomous vehicles is GoMomentum Station, located in Concord. All of these “smart cars” will be enabled by one of the world’s largest and most successful satellite companies, ViaSat, located in San Diego County, and Planet in San Francisco. Drive trains for electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks are made by US Hybrid in Torrance. And in Los Angeles, electric trams are made by Trams International. Aeromutable in Palo Alto, a spinout of Stanford Univeristy, has an add-on active flow control device capable of reducing the power required to overcome aerodynamic drag by over 16%. Another Silicon Valley company, located in Milpitas, Nanosys, is making quantum dots for better electronic displays, something important for all cars, especially EVs. In San Francisco, Pronto is is making self-driving commercial hauling vehicles. Gatik, in Mountain View, makes self-driving trucks that are hauling wood pulp and paper for Georgia-Pacific. Another company in San Diego developing autonomous driving systems is the wireless communications giant, Qualcomm, who recently announced a collaboration with BMW. Qualcomm has about $30 billion in contracts with automobile companies for its Snapdragon digital system, the so-called “digital chassis.”. Also in San Diego is the Brain Corporation that produces small robotic, electric powered vehicles, such as industrial floor cleaning robots and delivery tugs, with over 16,000 of their robots deployed in businesses throughout the world. In San Francisco, Robust AI is making autonomous EVs for factory jobs. They are led by former MIT professor, Dr. Rodney Brooks. Electric motors and drivetrains for EVs are designed and made by AC Propulsion in San Dimas. Autonomous EVs are used by San Carlos-based Iron Ox to move indoor grow stations in their sustainable farming system. They have large commercial grow facilities in CA and TX. And for farming out in the large fields of Central California, Verdant Robotics of Hayward, CA, is is making robotic, autonomous farm vehicles that precisely spray chemicals where needed. In this way, energy and chemical efficiency is achieved given the precise spraying.Another type of EV is the Virgin Hyperloop, based in Los Angeles, and planned to allow passenger and cargo vehicles to travel at 1,000k/hr in a vacuum tube running between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The hyperloop was originally conceived and patented in 1945 by Dr. Robert Goddard, Ph.D., the famous physicists who is the originator of liquid fuel rockets. Perhaps in another 75 years someone will figure out how to make this work, but it will require someone other than a charlatan to make it happen.
Electric airplanes, space ships, drones, and helicopters are part of the California EV revolution too, such as Wright Electric in Los Angeles, Surf Air in Hawthorne, Joby Aviation in Santa Cruz is now proceeding through FAA certification and has a contract to supply eVTOLs to the US Air Force, Kitty Hawk in Palo Alto, Archer Aviation, in Palo Alto, successfully using its technology to transition from vertical to forward flight and signing deals with United Airlines for orders and Stellantis for funding and manufacturing. They are currently in a major expansion in San Jose. United Airlines has said service using the Archer EVTOL will begin in 2025. Pterodynamics in Los Angeles is using a new, efficient swing-wing design for its eVTOL. Otto Aviation in Yorba Linda is making a hydrogen powered passenger aircraft with a new laminar flow design. Overair in Santa Ana is led by experienced aeronautical engineers who have developed an eVTOL with very large and efficient propellers. Years of experience derive from being a spin-out of Karem Aircraft in Lake Forest, CA, a designer and manufacturer of vertical take-off aircraft for the military. Perhaps the most famous helicopter is the solar/battery powered Ingenuity currently flying on Mars. Built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, founded by and part of Caltech, near Pasadena, this solar vehicle flies autonomously 94 million miles away from Earth. ES Aero in San Luis Obispo is working with NASA to provide the electrical system for the new X-57, all electric aircraft. Others include Wisk Aero in Mountain View, and Ampaire in Los Angeles (currently flying commercial flights in Hawaii). ZeroAvia in Hollister is powering aircraft using hydrogen fuel cells to produce electricity. Meanwhile, on an island in the San Francisco Bay, adjacent to Oakland, Magpie Aviation in Alameda (my windsurfing spot in the 80s and 90s) is developing long-distance electric airplane flight based on using electric aircraft that tow electric passenger aircraft. A series of battery-dense towing craft along the passenger route tow the passenger aircraft.
The aerospace industry in California is huge. As GO-Biz Director and Senior Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, Dee Dee Myers says, “This industry provides more than 500,000 high-paying jobs and generates more than $66 billion in annual economic activity. That’s more than the agricultural and entertainment industries combined – and it generates more than $7 billion in state and local taxes.” The City of Los Angeles is actively fostering this movement to electric powered aircraft. Robinson Helicopter in Torrance, for the past six years, has been working with Tier 1 Engineering of Santa Ana, CA, flight-testing and refining an electric-powered version of the Robinson R44 — the world’s best-selling general aviation helicopter for the past 22 years — with more than 7,200 delivered. M4 Aerospace Engineering in Long Beach, working with UC San Diego, the #3 rated public university and 15th overall, has been funded by NASA to develop an electric powered air taxis. San Diego County not only has 3 top tier public universities, but for a variety of reasons, is rated one of the best places to start a tech comapny. Commercial drones are made by Hitec in San Diego, Inovadrone in San Diego, and Skydio in Redwood City, Shield AI in San Diego, SkySafe in San Diego, and commercial heavy-lift hybrid drones by Parallel Flight Technologies in Santa Cruz. Autonomous, electric air and sea vehicles for defense are made by Anduril in Irvine. Software for autonomous flight of the drones is made by Auterion in Moorpark. Another clean technology for aircraft is hydrogen power, such as that being developed by Universal Hydrogen in Los Angeles. They have received FAA certification to fly their new 40 passenger hydrogen powered aircraft. Leaving the surface of the Earth for space can now be accomplished with electric pump rocket engines pioneered by Rocket Labs in Long Beach, CA and New Zealand. Rocket Lab’s Rutherford Engine uses a lithium ion battery to power the engine’s pump, a first in the industry and a game changer. In nearby El Segundo, part of the world’s largest space hub in the Los Angeles area, Impulse Space, founded by the co-founder of SpaceX (in Hawthorne, CA), Tom Mueller, who developed most of the propulsion systems for SpaceX, including the Merlin rocket engine, is developing new propulsion systems for ships that are already in space. Battery and solar will be part of the mix. In support of the aerospace industry, additive manufacturing (3D printing of components) is done by Morp3D in El Segundo and Relativity Space in Los Angeles. Once you arrived to your destination, the moon perhaps, get onboard the battery-solar operated FLEX vehicle from Venturi Astrolab in Hawthorne. Currently flying through the skies fighting murderous Russians in Ukraine is the battery powered Switchblade drone made by AeroVironment in Simi Valley. A more secret EV drone, called the Phoenix Ghost, deployed in the Ukraine comes from Aevex Aerospace in beautiful Solana Beach, part of North County San Diego. Analysts speculate that the Phoenix Ghost is a comparatively small weapon that could be hard to see against the cloud cover that shrouds much of Ukraine in late April and in May. Medical supplies are being delivered to remote areas by drones manufactured by Zipline in South San Francisco, and Wing in Palo Alto is delivering food and medicine throughout the world. If you need to travel on the water or under the water, EVs are available. Bedrock in Richmond, CA, is developing electric submarines and Lear Boats in Garden Grove and Arc in Los Angeles can make for an electrifying experience on the surface. Navier is building electric hydrofoils in San Francisco. SeaSatellites in San Diego makes small sea-going solar-EVs for data collection. Also in San Diego, a spin-out of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, Marine Robotic Vehicles makes electronic vehicles for capturing data in the oceans. Capturing data under the water is performed by electric drones produced by SeaDrones of Palo Alto. Of course, electric boats for use in the harbor have been available for years from Duffy in Newport Beach. Bigger electric boats, including ferries, are being built in Alameda by Switch Maritime. Impossible Mining in Pasadena makes electric mining vehicles that travel the ocean floor collecting precious metals for use in battery production. Selective harvesting of the rocks that contain minerals means that the ocean floor ecosystem will be minimally perturbed. Last year, electric vehicles became California’s No. 1 export. When you order yours, don’t forget to look for the vegan leather option for the interior. Companies such as Mycoworks and Bolt Threads, both of which are located in Emeryville have pioneered making leather from mushrooms (certain mushrooms form much collagen, the same material that forms the dermis of the skin and composes animal leather), an eco-friendly, renewable source of leather.
Batteries play an important role at EV charging stations too, and can include wireless, inductive charging stations being developed by Mojo Mobility in Santa Clara. As an example, for rapid charging and to better keep charging stations off of the grid, companies such as Freewire in Oakland, ChargePoint in the Silicon Valley, Volta in San Francisco, Noodoe in Irvine, EV Connect in El Segundo, EV Safe Charge in Los Angeles, Sema Connect in Santa Barbara, KIGT eChargers in Ontario, Webasto in Monrovia, Amply in Mountain View, Simpliphi Power in the picturesque seaside city of Oxnard, Envoy Technologies and Chargie in Culver City, ClipperCreek in Auburn (near Sacramento), and EVgo in Los Angeles use batteries, including recycled EV batteries, to generate the energy needed to recharge your EV. EV Safe Charge in Los Angeles now has a charging bot, called Ziggy, that is, itself, an autonomous EV used to charge other EVs. Rapid charging and discharge used for rapid power delivery is implemented by using super capacitors made by Maxwell Technologies in San Diego and Licap Technologies in Sacramento. Qmerit in Irvine sets-up integrated charging stations, and has partnered with Lucid. Recycled EV batteries are being repurposed by RePurpose Energy in Fairfield, Smartville in Carlsbad (San Diego County), and Rejoule in Signal Hill (Long Beach Area). EcoATM in San Diego recycles mobiles phones, including their lithium-ion batteries. New battery technologies have emerged in California too, including the solid-state lithium battery makers, QuantumScape, Sparkz, and Sakuu. Solid-state lithium ion battery technology is one means to limit thermal runaway and battery explosions. Defective lithium ion batteries, such as those found in some Tesla automobiles, can lead to thermal runaway. Sakuu, located in San Jose, has a prototype 3D battery printer in operation. Yoshino Power in City of Industry makes portable charging stations using solid-state lithium ion technology. Sparkz has developed a lithium-phosphate battery that it hopes will challenge the Chinese dominated manufacturing of these batteries, and is building a new manufacturing plant in Livermore. Battery manufacturers headquartered in other states, such as ONE in Michigan, are expanding their engineering facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles because of California’s well educated talent pool. A number of new lithium ion battery technologies are being developed, for example, by Sienza in Pasadena, CA. They use a technology originating from CalTech, where the architecture of the battery increases the area of charge and decreases the distance of charge movement. Battery Streak in Thousand Oaks is developing lithium batteries based on a new technology developed at UCLA, the #2 public university in the US, by materials scientists Dr. Bruce Dunn and Dr. Sarah Tolbert, that enables fast charging times. They’ve been funded by the National Science Foundation. Battery Streak uses Niobia that charges more like a capacitor than a chemical battery where the battery charges without chemical phase change. This new material yields faster charge times, less generation of heat during charging, and extended battery life. In San Leandro, at Coreshell Technologies, a group of scientists and engineers who trained at UC Berkeley, the highest ranked university in the US, have developed a new thin-layer electrode technology for lithium ion batteries. Coreshell’s new technology looks so promising in the short term that Tesla cofounder, Mark Tarpenning has invested. Ensurge in San Jose develops microbatteries using precise semiconductor manufacturing technologies. In Santa Clara, Gridtential is making batteries with a new silicon wafer technology. A 3d battery technology has been developed by Enovix in Freemont, and a 3d printing technology was developed by Sakuu for its sold-state battery production, a manufacturing process that saves about 30% in weight and space and makes the batteries more efficient (https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/sakuu-corporation-starts-work-on-new-pilot-facility-for-3d-printed-solid-state-batteries-194778/). New materials for batteries are developed and tested in San Diego at Wildcat Discovery Technologies. Imprint Energy in Alameda is making ultrathin, flexible, printed batteries for IoT (internet of things) devices, sensors, wearables. One of the companies making the 3D printers to manufacture these parts is Carbon in Redwood City. Other compamies, such as ErectorBot in Anza, make large scale 3D printers for many EV applications, including building the factories. Safer and more efficient lithium metal batteries are being developed by Cuberg in San Leandro. In San Diego, UCSD-spinout, South 8 Technologies, has developed a new Liquified Gas Lithium Electrolyte technology that provides stability of the lithium electrolyte. They’ve been funded by the US government, State of California, and a number of private companies. To enhance battery design, AI is used by Chemix, located in Mountain View. Mitra Chem in Mountain View is developing new cathode technologies for batteries. Rapid, robotic battery swapping in EVs is being developed by companies such as Ample in San Francisco. This allows you to pull into a battery station, much the same as “paleoliths” did with their ICE vehicles at gasoline stations, and rapidly change your battery and then drive-on. Once installed, batteries are typically difficult to diagnose for remaining battery life and wear. Rejoule in San Diego makes battery diagnostics easier and is developing the means to revitalize operating batteries. Even the iconic German microscopy company, Zeiss, has an innovation center in California (Dublin) for optoelectronic innovations in battery technologies. To better distribute energy during times of great demand, energy can be stored in EV batteries during low demand periods from sustainable sources, and then, using a technology from Nuvve in San Diego, send the energy from the vehicle to the grid, so-called vehicle-to-grid technology. Longer term storage of energy from in the grid can be accomplished by flow-batteries, such as those made by Primus Power Solutions in Hayward. San Francisco’s Sunrun will implement vehicle-to-grid charging for a new partnership between General Motors and San Diego Gas & Electric. Sinewatts, who recently moved from North Carolina to Bakersfield, CA (home to rock-influenced “Bakersfield Sound” country music pioneered by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, and still heard at the Crystal Palace), is working on a similar fast charging and vehicle-to-grid technology. BTW, those electric guitars powering the Bakersfield Sound were invented in Los Angeles by Adolph Rickenbacker
Co-locating the lithium supply with battery and battery pack manufacturers such as Amprius in Fremont (they have been battery specialists for California’s huge aerospace industry of 760 companies), Sila Nanotechnologies (silicon anode technology) in Alameda, Evolectric in Long Beach, Octillion in Richmond, Romeo Power in Los Angeles, Unigrid in San Diego (solid state batteries for storage), Ampcera in the Silicon Valley, OneCharge in Irvine, Totex in Torrance, SimpliPhi Power in Oxnard, Zeronox in Porterville, Enevate in Irvine, Trojan Battery Co in Sante Fe Springs, Zelos Energy in San Leandro, TerraWatt in Santa Clara, Totex in Torrance, and Flux Power in San Diego County, and EV manufacturing in a single area is a terrific opportunity for developing an environmentally friendly supply chain and removing 20 or more inefficient links from that chain. To this end, building a hyperlocal battery production region, California-based Statevolt plans to build a $4 Billion EV battery gigafactory with 54 GWh output planned at Salton Sea area, supplying 650,000 electric vehicles annually. This is a new company, so how well it performs remains to be seen. Implementing these batteries into the EV is complicated, and the battery packs for EVs are a big part of the complication. CelLink in San Carlos, makes high-conductance circuits that integrate busing, fusing, voltage monitoring, and temperature monitoring wiring systems into a single circuit. This circuitry saves space and weight over traditional wiring systems. Meanwhile in Santa Clara, AyarLabs has developed a new optical input-output (I/O) technology to integrate different circuits. By forgetting wires, connectors have more speed and bandwidth, and are lighter. The company was part of UC Berkeley’s Citrus Incubator, and has garnered $130M in Series C funding and established a number of significant partnerships. Solar-battery systems are made by YouSolar in Santa Clara. Working to make existing lithium ion batteries more efficient, using a simple drop-in additive is Sili-Ion, also funded by CalSEED, in Riverside.
Lithium is a key component of the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and is currently in short supply with shortages to become worse as the world moves to electric vehicles. While other battery technologies show promise, such as trivalent Aluminum ion batteries with a large and readily available supply of aluminum, after 30 years of development they are still not commercially viable and have many disadvantages compared to lithium ion batteries that must be overcome. Lithium demand is estimated to grow 8-10X by 2030. As Dr. Ned Mamalu, Ph.D., a former geologist at the US Geological Survey, teaches us, the USA has all the minerals it needs for battery (and other) technologies, but we don’t extract those minerals for many reasons. Lithium and other rare metals, are critical for batteries and electrification, and to better find and extract these metals, KoBold Metals in Berkeley is using artificial intelligence to explore for these resources. KoBold is currently using their technology to mine copper and cobalt in Zambia. The US government and the State of California have enabled the mining of critical minerals necessary for EV production through a number of means, including funding and tax incentives, but as Dr. Mamalu argues, more must be done to better survey what minerals are present in our lands and laws and regulations must be carefully implemented to allow extraction of those minerals. Mining those minerals on US soil is more eco-friendly than having those minerals mined in parts of the world where regulations are lax that allow massive pollution to occur. Because the US has a number of volcanic, magmatic, plate tectonic, and other geological formations, all minerals are here in the US in abundance. One of these active volcanic fields is at the Salton Sea in Southern California, and has the potential to meet 40% of the future global lithium demand (https://www.energy.ca.gov/data-reports/california-power-generation-and-power-sources/geothermal-energy/lithium-valley). The lithium brine 7,000 ft below the Salton Sea has significant advantages over mining lithium from rock sources- namely, the lithium is already in a brine, whereas when mined from Pegmatite rock, much energy is required to put the lithium in a brine. Every 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year that can be produced through a small well at the Salton Sea represents an entire open pit that does not need to be quarried and eliminates the environmental impacts of pits. (https://www.jadecove.com/research/dlecambrianexplosion). Due to the thermodynamic characteristics of producing lithium chemicals from solid rock compared to brine, millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions can potentially be avoided by unlocking more brine resources that were previously considered uneconomic because not enough people understood that there were mechanisms to produce lithium chemicals from that brine (see jadecove.com). Thus, the lithium brine in the Salton Sea allows for a difficult, energy intensive and expensive step to be skipped, and makes for a “greener” source. And, speaking of green, having the source close to the factories that use lithium-ion batteries is another step in making the process greener. Now, in a project sponsored by the Dept. of Energy, scientists from Berkeley Lab, UC Riverside, and the Geologica Geothermal Group, Inc. in San Francisco, are quantifying and characterizing the lithium in the hypersaline geothermal reservoir at the Salton Sea. Companies currently extracting lithium from the Lithium Valley include Controlled Thermal Resources, in Imperial, using technology developed by Lilac Solutions in Oakland, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and San Diego-based EnergySource Minerals, who has sold their working DLE technology to companies in Argentina (in this video, Dr. Michael McKibben, Ph.D., a geochemist and economic geologist at the University of California Riverside, gives a nice overview of lithium extraction at the Salton Sea). Energy Source Minerals has also licensed their extraction technology to a company planning to extract lithium at the Great Salt Lake in Utah. General Motors and Stellantis have contracted with companies at the Salton Sea to source lithium for their EV batteries. The technology to extract the lithium out of the boiling hot brine, which is highly corrosive and loaded with toxins like arsenic and lead, is unproven at commercial scale. However, Controlled Thermal Resources claims that its extraction technology is currently working and is being successfully scaled for commercial production. Another important “green” factor is that lithium ion batteries can be recycled, and using the recycled materials to produce new batteries works well. Companies, such as KBI in Anaheim and Repurpose Energy in Fairfield, have been recycling batteries for years and are working on new methodologies for better lithium ion battery recycling. In Carlsbad (San Diego County), Smartville is developing end-to-end, distributed solutions for EV battery reuse and recycling. Smartville is currently powering some facilities at UCSD with recycled EV batteries. The Imperial County Board of Supervisors has recognized the revolution that is occurring in the county, and has established an extensive plan to foster their natural resource. Tax incentives for businesses to build extraction plants, battery production, and battery recycling facilities are included in the plan, along with the establishment of a new Cal Poly Imperial County university to provide the educational needs, such as engineers and chemists, for the emerging energy sector in the Salton Sea area. San Diego State University is developing a campus in the area to serve the needs of the new tech hub. California’s Lithium Valley Commission is in the process of developing the world’s first Clean Energy Campus at the Salton Sea. In December, 2022, the California state commission voted to approve recommendations that would aid in accelerating lithium mining at the Salton Sea. New cities are currently being developed in the beautiful Palm Springs Area, such as Indio, about 10 miles from the Salton Sea, a bird-rich wetlands currently under restoration. For example, Genesis Capital in Sherman Oaks, is building a new city called Genesis Metropolis in Indio, near the wetlands being restored. General Motors is investing heavily in the area in order to have adequate lithium supplies for its expanding line-up of EVs, and helping in the wetlands restoration.
California is the innovation hub of the world, receiving about 50% of all venture funding – that’s as much as all of the other states combined. Despite the right-wing shibboleths who will tell us that low wages, no regulations, no taxes, giving cash to companies (part of the Texas strategy), and anti-union policies are what makes a business-friendly environment, California booms by doing the opposite and does not impose regressive laws, like Texas does, that include limiting the freedom and reproductive rights of women. As the fifth largest economy on the planet, and in a major growth phase, California is a leader in new housing starts (Trump slanted the 2020 census to diminish California’s population count for political purposes, leading to a massive undercount of non-whites), new business starts, and the Golden State has no peers among developed economies for expanding GDP, creating jobs, raising household income, manufacturing growth, investment in innovation, producing clean energy and unprecedented wealth through its stocks and bonds (Winkler, 2021, Bloomberg). By adding 1.3 million people to its non-farm payrolls between April 2020 and June 2021 — equal to the entire workforce of Nevada — California easily surpassed also-rans Texas and New York. California accounts for 63% of startup Unicorns (startups with a market cap of $1B or more) in the US, with a total market cap of 79% of that for Unicorns in the US. Further, California household income increased $164 billion, nearly as much as Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg (Winkler, 2021, Bloomberg). Between January 2018 through June 2021, California created or had 133,503 companies move to the state, by far the most in the US. California’s universities lead the nation in graduating founders of new companies, with Stanford and Berkeley neck-in-neck at #1 and #2. Of the top 100 colleges graduating founders, California dominates: Stanford (1), Berkeley (2), UCLA (11), USC (16), UC San Diego (28), UC Santa Barbara (43), UC Davis (51), UC Irvine (74) and UC Santa Cruz (100). Of the 6,924 corporate locations in California, 18% are research and development facilities, a ratio that easily beats the U.S. overall (11%), China (15%), U.K. (14%) and Japan (10%). Only Germany, at 19%, has a higher rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-06-14/california-defies-doom-with-no-1-u-s-economy). And, let’s not count out Germany. As erratic and poor decisions are made by Musk at Tesla, Mercedes is about to launch it’s new EV that has over 620 miles of range on one charge. The engineering on the new EQXX , designed in San Diego, is excellent and the car is beautiful. As Volkswagon sells more EVs in Europe than any other manufacturer, Sono in Munich has a new solar car coming, along with BMW moving fast on new EVs. Munich is Germany’s Silicon Valley, indeed many California companies are investing there. The world’s fourth and fifth largest economies are the world’s two great innovators.
While California is home to 12% of the U.S. population, the state attracted 47% of the most sought-after investment dollars deployed nationwide last year, according to National Venture Capital Association data. The investment in California is not big simply because the state is big, because California received nearly four times its share per capita of all such investments in the USA. Add in the emerging Lithium Valley at the Salton Sea, and all that will follow in the coming green revolution that depends on Lithium, California may be poised to overtake fourth place Germany in terms of GDP. To push forward the Lithium Valley, and the EV infrastructure in general, Governor Newsom has called for reform of The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a California statute passed in 1970 and signed in to law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan, that slows down building important, green infrastructure. Indeed, the Democratic led legislature has made reforms and Newsom has signed them, but more reform is needed. A big thank you to Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning whose vision and hard work at Tesla for many years began this revolution, along with the state of California’s help, including many laws supported and signed by then Governor Jerry Brown and current Governor Gavin Newson, and the US government under the direction of President Obama and VP Joe Biden who, through the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program, provided Tesla with $465 million during a pivotal time in 2010. Two engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, working in Berkeley, CA, using their own money, and later with the help of private funding from Elon Musk, who would later become CEO and diminish the quality of the cars, and funding from the State of California and the US government began this revolution, which has now expanded to the beautiful, stark, mountain rimmed desert lands of the Salton Sea.