In August President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate and energy package in the history of the United States. Included in the IRA is over $60 billion for domestic manufacturing across the clean energy supply chain, which includes $30 billion in production tax credits to accelerate domestic manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and critical minerals processing. A month later and battery manufacturers are clamoring to set up shop in the United States to take advantage of the financial incentives and to be a part of the clean energy transition.
Panasonic, which makes batteries for electric vehicles, was already manufacturing in the US at a Nevada gigafactory operated in conjunction with Tesla. Now it plans to expand a new facility in Kansas and open yet another facility in Oklahoma. When complete, the Kansas plant would be the largest economic development in the state’s history and would be larger than the Nevada gigafactory.
Panasonic’s factories are expected to produce the company’s lithium-ion 4680 cells for the batteries that go in EVs such as Teslas. Demand for EVs is expected to pick up, also as the result of the IRA, as it includes a $4,000 consumer tax credit for low- to-middle income individuals to buy used clean vehicles, and up to $7500 for new clean vehicles, which includes electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. EV sales will also be boosted by the passage of state bans on gas-powered vehicles—with California leading the way with a ban on sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035. Other states, including Washington, New York and Massachusetts may follow suit.
GM and LG
GM and LG recently announced a joint venture to build EV battery manufacturing plants in Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. Announced prior to the signing of the IRA, the joint venture, called Ultium Cells LLC, announced that it received a $2.5 billion loan from the U.S. Energy Department to help finance construction of the new plants. The loan comes from the government’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which has $17.7 billion in loan authority to support the manufacture of eligible light-duty vehicles and qualifying components, authorized by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
GM and LG are investing more than $7 billion via the venture to build three battery plants, according to a Reuters article. The Warren, Ohio plant is currently employing 700 workers and is planned to begin production next month. The Tennessee plant will start production in late 2023 and the Michigan plant in 2024, according to the Reuters report.
Just as Toyota announced its target of 40% of new vehicle sales in the U.S. to be electrified vehicles by 2025, which increases to 70% by 2030, it announced an additional investment of $2.5 billion in its newest North American facility, Toyota Battery Manufacturing in North Carolina. The expanded manufacturing facility will not only provide the batteries for its EVs, but will add 350 jobs, bringing the total employment to approximately 2,100. Production is expected to begin in 2025. With the new investment in its North Carolina battery manufacturing facility, the total commitment to advancing its battery production is now $5.6 billion.
Canadian battery developer, Zinc8, is not a well-known brand in the United States, but the company plans to bring battery manufacturing to New York state, incentivized by manufacturing production credits within the Inflation Reduction Act. The inaugural facility is planned for Ulster County, which it will produce batteries based on its proprietary flow battery technology for long-duration energy storage. Zinc8 claims that it is able to deliver power in the range from 20 kW to 50 MW that can store and discharge energy durations from 4 to 100 hours. Scalability and higher capacity is achieved with an increase in the size of storage tanks that hold zinc particles. Intended use is for microgrids and utilities, as well as for commercial and industrial projects.
The company chose Ulster County in Upstate New York after Senator Chuck Schumer personally called the CEO of Zinc8, Ron MacDonald, to urge the company to expand their operations in New York state and particularly to Ulster County.
“Zinc8 is the jolt of electricity the Hudson Valley needs, and is proof positive that when you invest in fighting climate change you are investing in creating good-paying jobs, new economic growth, and a brighter future for our communities. As the EPA officially begins cleanup of this once-contaminated asbestos dumping ground, I can think of no better way to usher in a renaissance for Ulster County than by making this the foundation for supercharging the fight against climate change with an investment in clean tech manufacturing,” said Senator Schumer.
The SuperBase battery is manufactured by U.S. startup, Zendure. It’s a plug-and-play residential storage system with semi-solid-state batteries designed for household backup power, mobile living, and portable EV charging applications.
The SuperBase V 6400 (SBV) measures 29 inches by 14 inches by 17.4 inches, including its real wheels, and weighs 130 pounds. The semi-solid state Satellite battery B6400 measures 27 inches by 11.22 inches by 11 inches and weighs 101 pounds. One SBV unit has a storage capacity of 6.438 kWh and can be scaled with up to four battery modules, reaching a capacity of 32 kWh. Two SBV units can be chained together to reach up to 64 kWh capacity. The energy storage system can operate at temperatures ranging from -20 C to 45 C and has a 3,000-cycle life.
The battery pack, according to the manufacturer, contains 42% more energy than lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. The company is launching versions of the system for the U.S. and European markets, with different inputs and outputs. The U.S. version has a maximum 1,800 W output at 120V, and of 3,800 W at 240V.
Ion Storage Systems
Another U.S.-based startup, Ion Storage Systems, raised $30 million venture capital funding, which will go toward scaling up its solid-state battery cell production facility in Maryland, with aims to produce 10 MWh per year by the end of 2023. The funding came from Toyota Ventures, Tenaska, and Bangchak Corp.
The key differences to other solid-state and next-generation batteries is its bi-layer cell design, which the company says reduces typical lithium-ion battery defects, and works with existing and next-generation cathode chemistries, avoiding the use of critical raw materials like cobalt, nickel, and gold.
Neil Ovadia, Ion’s vice-president of operations, told pv magazine that the company can target multiple markets, ranging from defense to consumer products to electric vehicles and stationary grid storage. Ovadia noted that Ion is working on a variation to the core product meant for stationary storage applications.
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