"The Achilles heel for renewable energy has always been scaling the technology. The demise of A123 comes as bad but not unexpected news."
…And I work hard for my money: This is OUR money that has been lost, not "Government" money~
And the only point to this was electric cars?
Might want to look closer at Johnson - Batteries for autos are only one thing they're involved in. Their Power Solutions business is about $1.3 billion out of $10.6 billion total revenue.
And ultimately, longer battery life for laptops, tablets, and smartphones are a far more widely desired result of Li-on battery research.
Since when is the role of government to *not* do that?
The problem with market based economies is that they are poor at providing things for which a price tag does not exist. Investors expect returns. What if what you are doing doesn't have an immediately quantifiable return? Advanced battery technology may well have substantial value down the road, but what is it worth now? What will make an investor pony up to fund it?
A123 had financial problems because it *couldn't* find such investors.
Think of geovernment investment as seed funding, intended to get a recipient to the point where it might *become* commercially viable and you're closer to the mark. The question then become what areas the government feels important enough to *provide* seed funding, and battery technology is arguably one of them.
(And note the entire infrastructure surrounding this communication had roots in government funding - the DARPA project to create a distributed network capable of routing around failed nodes spawned the Internet we all live on now. Think the Internet would have happened *without* the original DARPA funding?)
But it doesn't make a difference whether it's the government or private investors providing the capital - you're placing a bet, and more often than not, you lose. That's true regardless of who you are.
A123 followed a common path: they tried to make it as an independant, couldn't, declared bankruptcy, and had their assets bought by a bigger player active in areas they focused on, who saw potential value in them. This happens all the time too in various ways. How many startups get bought by bigger outfits wanting to add what the startup did to thier portfolio? The startup may not go bankrupt first, but the net result is the same.
Meanwhile, EETimes is a newe site covering the electronics industry. Reporting on an outfit in the ondustry that got government funding and didn't making it does not constitute endorsement of government funding.
Since when is it the role of the Federal Governemnt to "invest" in technology? As a veteran of the manned space program, I saw real investment made by private companies for whom I worked and "strategic" success achieved by free enterprise. Aa a technical publication, please be objective lay-off promoting soviet-style technology investment.
George, I'm sure you can find the address for A123 so you can send your own money to "invest with them". In my world, the government is not in place to gamble my tax dollars. Last I heard, previous investors are now getting $0.06 per share.
There's a fundamental difficulty there - you're working with power, not information. Processors get more "powerful" by using smaller and smaller amounts of power and real estate to process a bit, but to actually make things move you have to supply the grunt.
It's not clear that A123 execs will leave, much less receive fat severance packages. The company will still have a grid and related businesses, and Johnson Controls said it would license technology back to A123 (assuming JC wins the auction for A123's auto business assets).