Biden’s infrastructure plan would benefit from a healthy home battery supply chain


President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan (The American Jobs Plan) aligns recovery and climate action. It’s smart: Experts conclude that the green stimulus offers high return on job creation. Nowadays, the stimulus has not been so green in the world but the American plan will make a positive difference for our nation and the planet.

To reap the full benefits, it will be important to view home manufacturing as a tool, including for one of the most critical clean energy technologies: batteries. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) highlighted the opportunity of domestic battery production when she addressed Biden’s infrastructure and employment plan. “We can make it work,” Dingell said. “But we have to be intentional about the policy of bringing the battery supply chain back to the United States.”

A healthy home battery supply chain has many benefits for aligning Biden’s plan climate spending with clean energy jobs. The price of batteries has fallen sharply since 2010 (from $ 1,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to less than $ 150 / kWh today) enabling them to become more fundamental to clean energy business models, both in electricity and in mobility. Biden’s plan describes significant funding in these battery-dependent sectors: $ 174 billion to “win the EV market”, $ 100 billion for network infrastructure, $ 180 billion for research and development and $ 300 billion for manufacturing industries and small businesses.

The shift to a clean energy supply is already expected to create net jobs. Princeton Net-Zero America A study found that jobs on the energy supply side will increase in the future depending on clean energy and batteries and will employ a larger percentage of the population (0.3 to 3 times more). Ideally, a large portion of those renewable energy jobs will be in the same places where the 1.7 million Americans live. face job losses due to impending decline of fossil fuel industries.

Biden’s plan also provides a critical boost to vehicle electrification. This is an area potentially rich in jobs and will help strengthen the competitiveness of the United States in a low carbon economy. While he has been highlighted that EV manufacturing requires fewer jobs than internal combustion engine (ICE) car manufacturing, this is an incomplete story that overlooks jobs in battery manufacturing and vehicle charging infrastructure . A United Auto Workers Study found that “this change is an opportunity to reinvest in US manufacturing. But the opportunity will be lost if electric vehicles or their components are imported or manufactured by low-cost suppliers who underpay workers.”

If the investment of the 174 billion dollars allocated to “win the electric vehicle market” is also divided in favor of manufacturing batteries and vehicle charging infrastructure, we estimate it could create nearly 2 million jobs in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and 1 million jobs in battery cell manufacturing. If all of those jobs are realized, that’s up to 2.3 times the number of jobs that the same investment would produce, on average, if spent on ICE vehicles.

Supporting innovation and investment in batteries is an essential and highly leveraged acupuncture point to give momentum to the transition. However, ensuring that many of the 1 million to 2 million battery cell manufacturing jobs encouraged by Biden’s plan are based in the United States will not be an easy task. China has over 80% of the world’s battery manufacturing capacity and dominates the material supply lines. Other countries, such as the EU and India, are also stepping up their battery ambitions and see batteries as not only essential to climate change, but also as a boost to national security and global competitiveness. Fortunately, the United States can build on its strengths to improve its national battery supply chain.

Force 1: vehicle demand

Automotive OEMs prefer to manufacture vehicles close to market demand and ICE vehicle manufacturers, like GM, are increasingly adept at converting the production of ICE vehicles into the manufacture of electric vehicles. The United States’ thirst for private vehicles, and the expanding demand for electric buses as part of the U.S. Jobs Plan, provides an opportunity for domestic vehicle and battery manufacturers. While state tax exemptions and incentives have been successful in attracting battery manufacturers to specific locations, we can support domestic manufacturing by going beyond these.

The federal government can provide direct support to the competitiveness of battery manufacturing in the United States. Direct support could take many forms such as contracting, subsidizing environmental compliance costs, or leveraging existing public-private funding programs (such as the Office of Energy Lending Programs). Government funding will be particularly important to support new battery-driven business models that may meet warranty innovation needs, such as those arising from energy flow or potential. battery recycling and reuse applications (network resiliency or long-term storage applications).

Strength 2: Supply chain security potential: mining and recycling

Unlike Asia and Europe, the United States 17 percent of the world’s known lithium reserves within its borders. Lithium, a critical component of the battery, is increasingly called “white petroleum, “and demand is expected to exceed triple by 2025. Our nation has the opportunity to rapidly develop the technologies to extract it and scale up both the production and processing of this resource.

The United States can further improve the security and competitiveness of its supply chain by rapidly scaling up recycling efforts. By 2030, the mass of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries is on the verge of reaching 2 million tonnes worldwide. Fortunately, under President Donald Trump, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) launched the ReCell Center at the Argonne National Laboratory, focused on the transformation of battery recycling.

There are cost reduction opportunities for domestic manufacturing OEMs to find synergies in the supply chain by co-locating mining, manufacturing and recycling, as well as decreasing dependence on imported materials. The government can support these activities by increasing reuse and recycling R&D funding, as well as creating standards for battery labeling and tracking and sharing of data in electric vehicles.

Force 3: Innovation ecosystem

The United States can leverage and relocate its greatest asset: its potential for innovation. Our country has already gained a foothold due to the strength of its universities, national laboratories and R&D programs such as ARPA-E and DOE loan program, ambition and investment in Corporate R&D and a sophisticated venture capital ecosystem. Together, these assets have produced advanced lithium or solid state technology startups such as Nanotechnologies from Sila, Solid power, HIS, Power of Zion, Ionic materials, Enovix, QuantumScape, as well as some leaders in other technologies such as Natron Energy and Form energy.

America’s innovation system is also a leader in how batteries deliver low-carbon and distributed resilience and renewable grid integration value, with start-ups such as Inflate, Yotta and SimpliPhi innovate in this space. Diverse and yet to be identified markets for future applications and integrated design opportunities that rely on better batteries will develop and mature, such as long-term storage and carbon-free theft. Other nations, such as India, support the manufacture of competitive domestic batteries. By increasing funding and incentives for energy storage technologies that perform better on various characteristics (cycle life, energy density, charge rate, safety and durability of materials), we can leverage the strength of innovation from the United States to find competitive advantages in a global market.


About Catherine Sturm

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