To boost domestic supplies of lithium-ion battery minerals Metal Tech News – May 4, 2022
To help shore up domestic supplies of the cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel, and other materials that go into lithium-ion batteries, the U.S. Department of Energy has directed $3.16 billion from the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to bolster supply chains.
This multi-billion-dollar funding comes a month after President Biden authorized the Pentagon to utilize the estimated $750 million of available Defense Production Act Title III funding to establish and expand upon sustainable and responsible domestic strategic and critical minerals production.
"The United States depends on unreliable foreign sources for many of the strategic and critical materials necessary for the clean energy transition – such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese for large-capacity batteries. Demand for such materials is projected to increase exponentially as the world transitions to a clean energy economy," according to the memorandum signed by the President.
Further details on the authorized use of the Defense Production Act to bolster American supplies of critical battery minerals and materials can be read at Biden issues battery materials order in the April 1, 2022 edition of Metal Tech News.
So far, a total of slightly more than 2.5 million plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in America. With the costs of producing lithium-ion batteries falling more than 90% since 2008 and greater battery density allowing for longer range EVs, the White House hopes that more than triple this amount will be hitting American highways each year by 2030.
DOE says robust investments in supply chains are critical to ensuring automakers and battery manufacturers have the materials needed for the rapid expansion of EV sales expected over the next few years.
"Positioning the United States front and center in meeting the growing demand for advanced batteries is how we boost our competitiveness and electrify our transportation system," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
The infrastructure investments announced by DOE on Monday include $3.1 billion to support the creation of new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial facilities as well as manufacturing demonstrations and battery recycling.
DOE is also directing an additional $60 million to support second-life applications for batteries once used to power EVs, as well as new processes for recycling materials back into the battery supply chain.
Second life uses will likely focus on repurposing used EV batteries as stationary storage for renewable energy projects.
Both of these funding opportunities are considered to be key components of the Biden administration's whole-of-government strategy to strengthen America's energy independence and reduce its reliance on competing nations for the battery materials needed to support the President's goal of having EVs make up half of all vehicles sales in the U.S. by 2030.
DOE says responsible and sustainable domestic sourcing of the critical materials will help avoid or mitigate supply chain disruptions as manufacturers seek to produce enough lithium-ion batteries to power the more than 8 million EVs per year to meet the White House's lofty goal.
"I secured provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the domestic critical mineral supply chain used in battery production," said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. "Nevada's innovation economy is at the forefront of battery manufacturing and recycling, and the infrastructure law could bring vital new investments to the state."
As Nevada is expected to play a critical role in feeding lithium and other materials into the front end of the EV supply chain, Michigan is positioned to benefit from the exciting new chapter for automakers at the other end.
"The future of mobility is electric – and this support could help to ensure Michigan remains on the forefront of innovation by shoring up our supply chains for advanced battery technologies necessary to deploy the next all-electric fleet," said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. "I was proud to help secure this funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to lessen our dependence on foreign producers like the Chinese government for these critical technologies – and help our automakers meet the growing demand for cleaner, safer cars."
In total, more than $7 billion of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has been earmarked to strengthen the U.S. battery supply chain, which includes producing and recycling critical minerals without new extraction or mining.
"President Biden's historic investment in battery production and recycling will give our domestic supply chain the jolt it needs to become more secure and less reliant on other nations – strengthening our clean energy economy, creating good paying jobs, and decarbonizing the transportation sector," said Granholm.
The funding opportunities announced by DOE on Monday mark the first to be released as a collaboration between DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Office of Manufacturing and Supply Chains, a new office created by DOE to ensure that the department has the structure needed to effectively implement the clean energy investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Energy Act of 2020.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers, $5 billion for electric transit buses, and $5 billion for clean and electric school buses.