Thursday September 29, 2022

Department of Energy invests billions to boost domestic battery supply chain

The Department of Energy (DOE), has provided billions of dollars of funding to help build domestic supply chains for battery storage. The Biden administration plans to use batteries to power its plans to transition America to electric vehicles and clean electricity. It announced that it would give $3.1 billion to companies to help them create new, retrofitted, expanded commercial facilities to make and recycle batteries. The DOE will also grant $60 million to help find new uses for old EV battery. The money comes from the Bipartisan infrastructure Law, which was passed last year.
The bigger picture: The Biden administration has set some pretty ambitious goals for clean energy in the US. Under the Paris climate agreement, he committed the US to halving its greenhouse gases emissions in the next decade. The administration wants to make the power grid completely carbon-free by 2035, and ensure that half of all new cars sold by the end of the decade are hybrid or electric vehicles.
This kind of future depends on the availability of battery technology to make electric cars more affordable and to store solar energy so it’s always available when the sun goes down.
A DOE analysis last year showed that the US’s battery production capacity wouldn’t be sufficient to meet the expected demand for lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles by 2028. Because they are concentrated in a few countries, the current battery supply chain is particularly vulnerable. This has led to labor abuse allegations, such as a lawsuit against Tesla and others for the deaths child workers.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of moves that the Biden administration has taken to obtain more (and better!) batteries. Biden invoked the Defense Production Act in March to boost domestic mining and the processing minerals like nickel, cobalt and graphite which are essential for battery-making. The Department of Energy published a “national blueprint,” which was used to make lithium batteries last June. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law totals $7 billion to support domestic battery supply chains, from the gathering of raw materials to the production of battery cells and their recycling at the end.

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