US DOE invests $5 million to advance lithium battery manufacturing and labor – pv magazine USA

This workforce initiative aims to boost the country’s global competitiveness in battery manufacturing, while strengthening the national economy and clean energy supply chains.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO, today announced that it is investing $5 million to initiate a lithium battery manufacturing strategy.

This initiative is part of a series of advertisement of President Biden’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Communities and Economic Revitalization pledged to take action to support the coal, oil and gas, and power communities as the country is transitioning to a clean energy economy.

Lithium batteries power everything from electric vehicles to consumer electronics, and are a critical part of President Biden’s whole-of-government decarbonization strategy. The DOE and the Biden administration are investing in this critical area to establish a secure end-to-end supply chain for battery materials and technology. Currently, China is the world market leader in the production of lithium-ion batteries, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie. And while the United States backs its battery industry, China is investing heavily to build more manufacturing facilities to expand its dominance.

In June, the DOE announced a separate funding initiative in which $200 million was earmarked to support the U.S. battery supply chain as well as new vehicle development, both in electric vehicles and connected vehicles. This month, American Battery Factory (ABF) announced plans to establish a lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) battery manufacturing network across the United States. Incubated by Lion Energy, a mobile battery and solar generator provider that achieved $100 million in revenue in 2021,

“I am pleased to see the Department of Energy working with our industry partners to invest in the next generation of our clean energy workforce,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D- WV), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “While I remain concerned about our reliance on China and other foreign countries for key parts of the lithium-ion battery supply chain, engaging our strong and skilled workforce to manufacture batteries at the national level is an essential step in reducing our dependence on other countries and ensuring that we are able to maintain our energy security.

The pilot training programs will support cooperation between industry and labor and provide sites for job analysis and documentation of worker skills. The knowledge gained will support the development of industry-recognized national benchmarks and inform the development of broader training programs to support the entire battery supply chain.

This announcement follows the recent publication by the DOE of two Notice of intent authorized by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to provide $3 billion to support projects that bolster domestic battery manufacturing and recycling. The funding, which will be made available in the coming months, will support the refining of battery materials, which will build national capacity for refining minerals such as lithium, as well as production plants, cell manufacturing facilities and battery packs and recycling facilities.

According to a recent Intel PV report, California is an example of a booming US battery market, with an 8-fold increase in solar plus battery installations in the last year alone.

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Marjorie N. McClure