DOE Blueprint for Lithium: Step up production and secure supply chains

Clearly seeing lithium-ion as the foundation for the growth of both grid-scale and transportation battery storage, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its renewed focus toward securing supply chains and stimulating domestic manufacturing.

The DOE’s National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries report, released this month, also provided the talking points for a roundtable this week hosted by DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The event included members from a host of companies in the lithium battery industry.

Lithium accounts for more than 80 percent of battery energy storage capacity in the U.S., while installation totaled 1.7 GW in the U.S. last year and is expected to grow to about 7 GW by 2025, according to forecasts from Wood Mackenzie and the Energy Storage Association.

The U.S. has lithium reserves, but much of the supply chain for the element originates from elsewhere, including China.

“America has a clear opportunity to build back our domestic supply chain and manufacturing sectors, so we can capture the full benefits of an emerging $23 trillion global clean energy economy,” Granholm said a statement from the roundtable. “The American Jobs Plan will unlock massive opportunities for U.S. businesses as it spurs innovation and demand for technologies—like vehicle batteries and battery storage—creating clean energy jobs for all.”

The DOE’s National Blueprint report calls for securing access to raw materials, supporting growth of a processing sector, beefing up manufacturing and enabling recycling and end-of-life reuse for batteries.

Advancing U.S. battery technology leadership through research, development, STEM education and workforce training also advances the lithium cause domestically, the DOE report noted.

“To retain a competitive manufacturing base, the U.S. needs a competitive EV industry supported by battery manufacturing,” the blueprint reads. “While estimates vary and projections can change dramatically, Bloomberg projects worldwide sales of 56 million passenger EVs in 2040, of which 17% (about 9.6 million EVs) will be in the U.S. market (FIGURE 1). If all batteries for Bloomberg’s projected 9.6 million EVs were manufactured abroad, that would result in roughly $100 billion in imports. Capturing this market is imperative for the future viability of the U.S. auto industry, which historically has contributed 5.5% of the total U.S. gross domestic product.

“In addition to the EV market, grid storage uses of advanced batteries are also anticipated to grow, with Bloomberg projecting total global deployment to reach over 1,095 GW by 2040, growing substantially from 9 GW in 2018,” the DOE added. “To participate in the lithium-based battery market, the U.S. needs a robust supply chain to produce state-of-the art, reliable EV and grid storage batteries at scale.”

China is forecast to dominate cell manufacturing over the next few years, taking up to 73 percent of the 2,492-GWh market, according to the blueprint quoting Benchmark Mineral Intelligent.

New mineral extraction in the U.S. must be held to the newest environmental standards, according to the report.

— — — — —

Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and POWERGEN+ Online. If you have a comment or story idea, you can reach Walton at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@a-h

No posts to display