Photo by Gavinp101, Dreamstime.
A sample of lithium spodumene pegmatite, a mineral source of the element lithium.

Senators Want DOE to Invest in Energy Storage Technologies Other Than Lithium Ion Batteries

Feb. 9, 2023
Other available technologies include nickel cobalt aluminum and nickel manganese cobalt, as well as vanadium redox flow batteries.

Lawmakers from the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm asking the Biden Administration to follow the guidelines of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and invest resources in a wider variety of battery energy storage technologies beyond the dominant lithium ion battery electrochemistry.

The letter, sent by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Angus King (I-ME) Jim Risch (R-ID), Shelley Capito (R-WV) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), stated that while investment in lithium-based energy storage is good, an overreliance on lithium leaves the U.S. vulnerable to international constraints on the material.

According to the International Energy Agency, lithium iron phosphate batteries are the industry preferred choice for utility-scale energy storage, and constitute the majority of new installations. Other available technologies include nickel cobalt aluminum and nickel manganese cobalt, as well as vanadium redox flow batteries.

The senators’ letter says all programmatic funding awards under IIJA so far have related to the lithium-ion battery supply chain.

“We are pleased to see this funding awarded and recognize the importance of domestic lithium-ion batteries, especially in the transportation sector. However, going forward the Department should also seek to accelerate the deployment of domestic alternative battery manufacturing for grid-scale battery energy storage, in addition to lithium-ion technologies, in line with Congressional intent,” the letter said.

In December 2022, the DOE’s Loan Programs Office finalized a $102.1 million direct loan to Louisiana-based Syrah Technologies LLC for the expansion of a processing facility for a critical material used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies.

The DOE also made a $2.5 billion loan to Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture of LG Energy Solutions and General Motors, to help finance the construction of new lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities in Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan to support the domestic EV industry, according to the DOE.

“Battery energy storage will play a crucial role in the clean energy future and increasing domestic advanced battery manufacturing presents an important opportunity to restore and diversify our nation’s energy supply chains while creating thousands of high paying clean energy jobs. We thank the Department for its efforts to date and look forward to working with the Administration on achieving these priorities,” the letter said.

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