The United States has announced intentions to develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain, which is crucial for electric vehicles and renewable energy. Its new goal is to be able to do practically everything within its boundaries by the end of the decade, from mining to manufacturing and recycling batteries. If it fails, the United States may find it difficult to satisfy its own climate targets while still competing in the rapidly rising electric vehicle market.
The Department of Energy (DOE) today unveiled a “national strategy” outlining how it aims to improve America’s lithium battery manufacturing capability. For electronics and electric cars, demand for these batteries has already surged. To accommodate rising volumes of solar and wind power, upgraded electricity infrastructures will also require massive batteries. The DOE even makes a case for battery-powered planes taking to the sky in its blueprint.
The United States currently a minor role in the worldwide battery sector. Both the battery production and material supply chains are dominated by China. By 2028, the US is estimated to be able to supply less than half of the predicted demand for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles on US roads if it continues on its current path.
According to the blueprint, “these estimates suggest that there is a serious risk that U.S. enterprises would be unable to benefit from domestic and worldwide market growth.” “In crucial technologies, our transportation, electricity, and aviation supply chains will be weak and reliant on others.”
According to the DOE, a lack of a national strategy is a major factor holding the US back. So, in order to turn things around, the DOE set out its priorities for federal technology investment this decade. One of the most difficult issues to solve is obtaining enough critical minerals. Lithium, cobalt, and nickel, which are used in batteries, are in low supply. To make matters worse, these resources are only extracted in a few locations, and labor and human rights violations are widespread. This necessitates the discovery of new mineral sources and the development of batteries that use less of these components.
The race to tap lithium reserves in the United States is already underway, and the DOE’s new roadmap will undoubtedly speed up domestic mining efforts. The DOE also advocated for mandatory recycling in order for battery manufacturers to extract additional materials from outdated products in the future. In the long run, the DOE hopes to eliminate cobalt and nickel from lithium-ion batteries by 2030. (Tesla said last year that it would produce cobalt-free EV battery cathodes.) It hopes to lower the cost of an electric vehicle battery pack in half by the end of the decade through superior design.
The Department of Energy (DOE) intends to award $17 billion in loans to electric vehicle manufacturing plants in the United States. It also wants to expand the use of large-scale energy storage at federal facilities. It also issued new guidelines that require federal contractors and grantees to manufacture the things they’re studying and developing in the United States, including anything linked to advanced batteries.
It’s part of the Biden administration’s larger effort to establish more domestic supply chains. They are also interested in crucial minerals, semiconductor chips, and pharmaceuticals, in addition to lithium-ion batteries. Today, the government released a broader examination of all of those supply chains and announced the formation of a new task group to prevent supply chain disruptions. After the COVID-19 outbreak exposed major flaws in global supply networks, the task group is focusing on identifying short-term solutions.
In the long run, the United States will almost certainly have to figure out how to create a lot more things on its own. The Biden administration will set aside $100 million in funding for state-level apprenticeship programs that will aid in the creation of new domestic supply chain workforces. “Decades of treating labor as a cost to be controlled rather than an asset to be engaged in has damaged our domestic supply chains,” said Sameera Fazili, deputy head of the National Economic Council. “These findings make it clear that we need to take action.”