The Biden Administration is creating more opportunities to boost American manufacturing with new initiatives intended to fund battery materials refining and production plants.
There's about $3 billion on the table from the Department of Energy to help fund the construction of an entirely new battery supply chain in the U.S.
The timing couldn't be more important.
European battery initiatives worth several billion dollars are already underway in France, Sweden, and the UK.
Northvolt, the $12 billion battery startup out of Sweden, is already producing batteries from its first factory. Meanwhile, the French government is spending roughly $3 billion on its own battery development project for electric vehicles.
Here in the U.S. the funding is intended to ensure the nation can produce battery materials, recycling facilities, and cells and battery packs
These are the strategic elements of the next generation of energy production and are as key to American interests as oil and gas was in the twentieth century.
In all, some $7 billion will be spent on the U.S. battery supply chain, including producing and recycling critical minerals without new extraction or mining, and sourcing materials for domestic manufacturing, according to a statement from the Department of Energy.
"As electric cars and trucks continue to grow in popularity within the United States and around the world, we must seize the chance to make advanced batteries — the heart of this growing industry — right here at home,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, in a statement. “With funding from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re making it possible to establish a thriving battery supply chain in the United States.”
And the DOE is backing up that spending push with concrete proposals for specific technologies.
One program calls for spending $140 million to recycle fossil fuel waste from coal mines into minerals and metals needed to make batteries.
“Applying next-generation technology to convert legacy fossil fuel waste into a domestic source of critical minerals needed to strengthen our supply chains is a win-win — delivering a healthier environment and driving us forward to our clean energy goals,” Granholm said in a statement.. “With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investment in the build out of this first-of-its kind critical minerals refinery, we are moving ideas from the lab to the commercial stage and demonstrating how America can compete for the global supply chain to meet the growing demand for clean energy technology.”
There are literally billions of tons of coal waste and ash, acid mine drainage, and produced water that could potentially hold valuable minerals if they were reclaimed.
The Department of the Interior has already instituted a plan to pay out nearly $400 million per year to West Virginia and Pennsylvania to clean up abandoned mines.
Now the Department of Energy is coming in with even more money to convert that waste into valuable products for hydrogen fuel cells, semiconductors, electric vehicles, wind turbines, drones, and energy storage technologies.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to helping working families, often in rural and Tribal communities, who face hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence both during mining and long after coal companies have moved on,” said Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's historic investments will help revitalize these local economies and support reclamation jobs that help put people to work in their communities, all while addressing environmental impacts from these legacy developments.”