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Batteries R Us

Feb. 26, 2013—In the new energy landscape, the battery is king. Without the right energy storage devices, all the solar panels in the world become worthless when the sun goes down, wind farms generate nothing but hot air and electric cars—even the Tesla S—have to be pushed home.

So yes, batteries are important to the clean energy economy. But most of the world’s batteries are made in China. Oops! So it’s a little extra special that a “Battery University” is opening this summer at San Jose State University with the aim of training a Silicon Valley-based workforce in the art and science of improving energy storage.

The program will start as a summer overview course, maximum enrollment 50, but backers hope it will become a full-blown certification program drawing professionals from related industries as well as engineering master’s students. Fromall over the word.

And who are the backers, you may ask? San Jose State is teaming up on this one with CalCharge, a public/private partnership between the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and CalCEF, a $30 million nonprofit venture capital fund (!!) created to ramp up California’s clean energy industry. The offspring of two behemoths, CalCharge is supposed to use public resources and private focus to accelerate the energy storage piece of the clean industry puzzle; it came squalling into this world in 2012, on the heels of a year in which VC investment in energy storage grew 13-fold (thirteened?). CalCharge wants to create an energy storage cluster right here in California, and the Battery University seems like a nice addition to the 30-odd Bay Area companies (there are 40 in California) working on the energy storage question. Read more at the Mercury News.

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