US President Barack Obama has visited battery manufacturer Saft America’s automated lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Florida, claiming that government policy on clean energy helped support employment at the facility.
Obama praised Saft for providing high-tech manufacturing jobs in the US and for the fact that nearly 40% of its workforce are veterans, according to a Saft release. Obama also contrasted the US clean energy industry and its employment opportunities with that of Europe where cuts in clean energy support have resulted in swathes of job losses.
Seven years ago, the Recovery Act, involving US$90 billion investment in renewables, was passed under Obama's tenure.
In his address, president Obama said: "Overall, the clean energy investments we made in the Recovery Act have combined to support hundreds of thousands of jobs - including nearly 300 right here at Saft."
Saft’s batteries are used in the energy storage, renewables, utility metering, aviation, defence, marine, medical, oil and gas, railways, space, and telecommunications industries. Among other applications, the Jacksonville facility produces battery solutions specifically for renewable energy storage.
Obama said: “These batteries are the kinds of things folks don’t always think about when it comes to renewable energy, but it couldn’t be more important. So the good news is that over the final three months of last year, we deployed more advanced energy storage capacity than over the previous two years combined."
“We can see real, tangible evidence of what a new economy looks like. It looks like this facility right here.
“There are few areas where our efforts to build a new economy have paid off in a bigger way than in how we manage energy - make it cleaner, make it more efficient - help consumers, help businesses, and create jobs.”
In his final State of the Union address to Congress in January, Obama had also highlighted the US’s progress on solar energy, claiming that it is is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employing more Americans than coal.
Thomas Alcide, president of Saft America, said: “Saft is able to supply its customers with tailored battery solutions for mission-critical applications because of the expertise of our employees. Our Jacksonville facility allowed us to broaden our US footprint and create quality, local jobs.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that Saft’s batteries would be used by Swiss-headquartered power and automation specialist ABB in its manufacturing of seven ENVILINE energy storage systems that store train braking energy using lithium-ion batteries.
These batteries are the kinds of things folks don’t always think about when it comes to renewable energy, but it couldn’t be more important. So the good news is that over the final three months of last year, we deployed more advanced energy storage capacity than over the previous two years combined."