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Clean Vehicles

The U.S. Is Developing A Domestic Lithium Battery Supply Chain

Image courtesy of Kumpan Electric

The United States has decided to take the production and supply of lithium batteries – those that are used in electric vehicles (EV) and electrical grid storage – into its own hands.

More specifically, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it’s investing $200 million over the next five years to fund EVs, batteries, and related projects in its support for the development of a domestic lithium battery supply chain. 

Image courtesy of Possessed Photography

The funding is available to as many as 17 national labs to subsidize electric vehicle innovation with the goal of decarbonizing the transportation sector. This is also expected to create new clean-energy manufacturing jobs while reducing the transportation sector’s carbon footprint.

“We’re focusing on the entire battery supply chain from soup to nuts – from sustainable mining and processing to manufacturing and recycling – which will translate to thousands of new jobs across the country and put more clean-running electric vehicles on the road,” said acting assistant secretary Kelly Speakes-Backman in a press release. “We want to establish global leadership at each level of the supply chain, and I am so excited for the possibilities.”

This comes in addition to the $162 million in funding to improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles that were announced in April. That funding would support electrifying freight trucks and lower emissions for on- and off-road vehicles.

“Transportation accounts for approximately 30 percent of total U.S. energy needs and generates the largest share of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions,” noted DOE’s April announcement. “DOE’s new funding seeks to address the two largest contributors to transportation sector emissions: passenger cars and light-duty trucks, which are responsible for nearly 60 percent, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which cover nearly a quarter.”

The funding is based on recommendations developed by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB) in its recently released National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021-2030. The blueprint outlines five goals to achieve its vision of establishing a domestic supply chain of lithium-based batteries.

The goals include: 1) Secure access to raw materials; 2) Support the growth of a U.S. materials-processing base; 3) Stimulate the U.S. electrode, cell, and pack production sectors: 4) Enable end-of-life reuse and recycling of critical materials; and 5) maintain and advance U.S. battery technology leadership.

The FCAB is made up of the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, and State. Its mission is to provide a coordinated approach to develop a robust domestic lithium battery industrial base and create new jobs in the process.

“Advanced, lithium-based batteries play an integral role in 21st-century technologies such as electric vehicles, stationary grid storage, and defense applications that will be critical to securing America’s clean energy future,” noted the release. “Today, the U.S. relies heavily on importing advanced battery components from abroad, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities that threaten to disrupt the availability and cost of these technologies, as well as the workforce that manufactures them.”

This would put the U.S. on its path to produce 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and fulfill its goal to be a net-zero emission economy by 2050.

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