Rep. Ted Budd (Republican from North Carolina) sent a letter to Secretary Jennifer Granholm of the Department of Energy (DOE), inquiring about China’s use of revolutionary U.S.-made battery technology.
“This development is highly alarming, and your department has a responsibility to provide Congress and the public with answers to important questions,”Budd made these remarks in the Breitbart News letter before it was sent on Wednesday.
Budd refers a August 9, 2022 National Public Radio report (NPR). “laid out, in detail, how the DOE wrongfully allowed the transfer of advanced, cutting-edge battery technology developed in a federally-sponsored laboratory to a Chinese company.”
Budd details how researchers at the Pacific Northwest National lab began working on a vanadium redox flow battery in 2006 — the battery was envisioned to have a large storage capacity and the prototype was able to power an entire house. After six years and $15 million spent in taxpayer dollars toward research, a company called UniEnergy Technologies was founded in 2012 to license the DOE’s battery patent and market the technology commercially.
The company eventually became profitable. “began fostering progressively closer ties with Chinese entities”This allowed Rongke Power to sub-license the DOE-owned patent. Even though U.S. law mandates license holders for DOE patents, “substantially manufacture and predominantly sell the products in the U.S.”Budd writes that UniEnergy was the main seller of Chinese-assembled batteries in China through Rongke Power and Rongke Power.
“DOE’s license monitoring apparatus failed to identify and investigate the non-compliant sublicence given to Rongke Power for years,”Budd states.
“Later in 2021, UniEnergy contacted the DOE to fully divest themselves of the vanadium redox flow battery license, requesting permission to transfer it to the Dutch based firm Vanadis Power,”He went on. “Even though that company does not substantially manufacture batteries within the U.S. for sale in the U.S. market—Vanadis’s website makes clear that they plan to manufacture their batteries in China—DOE officials apparently approved the transfer expeditiously.”
Budd emphasizes that China recently connected the world’s largest battery farm to its power grid — and all of the batteries in the 800MWh facility are Vanadis Power and Rongke Power vanadium redox flow batteries.
“Thus, it is clear this battery farm would not exist without U.S. taxpayer-funded research. It is unacceptable that DOE-funded research facilitated China’s achievement of this strategic feat before America could build anything comparable,”Budd writes.
Budd wanted Granholm’s answers to several questions, by October 15, 2022.
What is the DOE’s process for monitoring compliance by license holders with U.S. law and department regulations?
Are licensees who have close working relationships with Chinese companies given special consideration?
Is DOE responsible for investigating its own shortcomings in oversight and how does DOE implement the changes necessary?
Does DOE know if other research done in national labs is being sublicensed or licensed to Chinese entities? If so, what can be done to stop these technology transferes?
How does DOE enforce license conditions?
“Mistakes like allowing the scaling-up of cutting-edge, U.S. developed battery technology to occur in China instead of America cannot continue to occur. I expect your department to take concrete steps to prevent any further technology transfers to foreign adversaries,”He concludes.
China has a history of ending up with American technology — a 2021 CBS report estimated that the Chinese Communist Party has stolen $200 billion to $600 billion dollars a year in U.S. intellectual property for at least 20 years.
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