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Bolstering the Battery Supply Chain – Leveraging Public-Private Sector Cooperation and Getting the States Involved

The U.S. will not achieve complete lithium battery supply chain independence by 2030, but the country could capture 60% of the economic value consumed by domestic demand for lithium batteries by that year, generating $33 billion in revenues and creating 100,000 jobs, if it implements a series of recommendations put forth in its just-released action plan, says Li-Bridge, a public-private alliance convened by the Department of Energy and managed by Argonne National Laboratory.

Created in 2021 and dedicated to accelerating the development of a robust and secure domestic supply chain for lithium-based batteries, the consortium released an action plan entitled “Building a Robust and Resilient U.S. Lithium Battery Supply Chain” containing 26 recommended actions to bolster the domestic lithium battery industry with the goal of putting the United States on a competitive path in the global battery value chain.

According to the Argonne National Lab“the report complements a series of recent government initiatives designed to strengthen the country’s battery and semiconductor industries including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or BIL) and the CHIPS and Science Act, which together represent some of the most significant industrial policy initiatives in U.S. history.”

Recommendations range from investments into R&D and, removing barriers to market-entry to strengthening partnerships with other countries, and Congressional action to accelerate U.S. domestic mineral mining and processing projects. The report goes on to argue that Li-Bridge should be formalized to execute on its recommendations, effectively creating a public-private partnership to coordinate efforts across state, local and federal governments with private enterprises.

Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary David M. Turk believes that “[t]he public-private partnerships described in this report will be crucial to realizing that safer, cleaner future that will benefit generations of Americans to come.”

With public-private sector cooperation having long both fueled and fed off the materials science revolution, which has been transforming the ways in which we use and obtain metals and minerals, placing a stronger emphasis on these cross-sector collaborations only makes sense.

In part fueled by the above referenced government initiatives, new partnerships between the public and private sectors to bolster the battery supply chain have sprung up, especially at the state level.

Recent cases in point:  the construction of battery plants in Coweta County, Georgia, and Van Buren Township, Michigan.  States like Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas have also attracted EV battery makers as automakers scramble to lock down supplies and policy stakeholders work to create frameworks conducive to attracting investment into these critical industries.

ARPN has featured several of these efforts — along with other initiatives and projects specific to the individual battery criticals (graphite, manganese, cobalt, nickel and lithium) in a series of posts.

As stakeholders step up their efforts, ARPN will continue to feature more examples of state level public-private cooperation or formalized public private partnerships (PPPs) to sustainably strengthen the domestic battery supply chain.