Anyone who follows long-term technology progress will tell you that one of the biggest obstacles is power generation and storage. It affects everything from medical devices, to cars, to embedded hardware to space exploration. Generating electricity is often very inefficient, transmitting power over long distances is often very lossy (and that includes light and heat, as well as electricity). For vehicles, the problem is exponential, as the heavier your power store, the more power it takes to move it.
“Provisions in the Congressional stimulus bill could help jump-start a new, multibillion-dollar industry in the US for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrids and electric vehicles and for storing energy from the electrical grid to enable the widespread use of renewable energy. The nearly $790 billion economic stimulus legislation contains tens of billions of dollars in loans, grants, and tax incentives for advanced battery research and manufacturing, as well as incentives for plug-in hybrids and improvements to the electrical grid, which could help create a market for these batteries. Significant advances in battery materials, including the development of new lithium-ion batteries, have been made in the US in the past few years; but advanced battery manufacturing is almost entirely overseas, particularly in Asia.”
While I’m excited about this from a technology point of view, I fear it won’t do what the stimulus money’s primary job is; getting money and products happening now.