How the DOE is trying to increase the battery supply as a climate solution


The U.S. Department of Energy is making a push to strengthen the country’s battery supply chain, announcing up to $3.5 billion for companies that produce batteries and the critical minerals that go into them, reports The Associated Press.

Batteries are seen as an important climate solution because they can power cars, which are a major cause of climate change when they burn gasoline. They are also a solution when they store clean electricity made from solar panels or wind turbines, allowing gas or coal power plants that cause climate change to turn off.

Lithium ion is currently the dominant battery type both for electric vehicles and clean electricity storage. The DOE wants to strengthen the supply because even though there is plenty of work underway to develop alternatives, it estimates demand for lithium batteries will increase up to 10 times by 2030.

The Biden administration has a goal of lowering the pollution that causes climate change to zero by 2050 and for half of all new car sales to be electric in 2030.

Some officials, industry experts and others concerned about climate change fear that the supply of battery materials will not keep pace with demand. Others worry that too much of the industry is anchored in Asia.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law assigned $6 billion in total funding for battery material processing and manufacturing. An initial round went to 15 projects including companies that mine critical minerals like graphite and nickel, used in lithium batteries, including one project in south Louisiana. This second round will fund similar companies but also those that rely on alternative chemistries, such as flow and sodium batteries. Read more.