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Microsoft Bets Big on Battery Startup

Microsoft Corporation is investing heavily in a global silicon-battery manufacturer that promises to “dramatically improve power and charging time of electric vehicles,” The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s happening: A consortium including Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund and other financial backers will invest $214 million in the Woodinville, Washington, startup Group14 Technologies, bringing the company’s latest round of funding to $614 million.

  • Group14 “says its silicon anode material is more efficient than existing graphite technology, potentially fueling more powerful batteries for auto makers.”
  • The company recently received a $100 million grant from the Department of Energy via the historic 2021 infrastructure legislation.

Why it’s important: “Industry executives say silicon batteries should help enable ultrafast charging, another key step toward increasing adoption of electric cars.”

  • “Group14 plans to use the new funding to accelerate development of a larger manufacturing facility in central Washington that will produce material for batteries capable of powering at least 100,000 electric cars.”
  • The recent reconciliation legislation tied tax credits for EVs to the amount of material that comes from domestic manufacturers or trading partners.

The last word: “Forward-looking investments like Microsoft’s are the kind of creative steps we’ll need in an increased electrified vehicle economy,” said NAM Senior Director of Energy and Resources Policy Nile Elam.

  • “Sourcing materials and creating products that can achieve the same functions as other scarce critical minerals is essential. However, we still need greater federal funding for R&D, new recycling methods and the exploration of domestic sources of raw materials to enhance American competitiveness in the decade ahead.”
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