Senators urge US to take steps to boost battery production, citing China’s dominance


Two influential Democratic US senators urged the Energy Department to take steps to boost US battery manufacturing, citing China’s dominance and recent Chinese export controls imposed, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Mark Warner and Energy Committee chairman Joe Manchin cited experts saying that the United States is “10 to 20 years behind Asia in commercialisation of battery technology,” and noted that China accounts for more than 75 per cent of battery cell production.

US urged to work with technology leader China on transition to clean energy

“The US must become a leader in manufacturing batteries and battery components, while securing our supply chains for the materials that make up those components,” the senators wrote in a previously unreported letter seen by Reuters, citing China’s decision last month to restrict exports of graphite, critical to manufacturing battery anodes.

China dominates the global EV battery supply chain including production of graphite – the single largest component.

The letter noted in 2022 the United States produced less than 10 per cent of lithium-ion batteries in 2022 and said demand is expected to grow over seven times by 2035.

The letter wants a committee briefing by December 1 “on ongoing research and development of next-generation battery technologies.”

Lithium-ion batteries, the Pentagon has said, are crucial to thousands of military systems from “handheld radios, to unmanned submersibles and to future capabilities like lasers, directed energy weapons and hybrid electric tactical vehicles,” the letter noted.

China ups export curbs on key EV battery component in national security push

China accounts for 70 per cent of the global production of lithium-ion batteries, the letter said, noting of five critical minerals required for most lithium-ion batteries, China “controls between 60-100 per cent of the mining or refining for these minerals.” The letter also said “it is critical that the US lead in next-generation battery technology and alternative chemistries” and coordinate with the Department of Defence and other national security agencies “to support procurement of innovative, US-developed energy storage technologies.”

A spokesperson for Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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