What Should the United States Do to Regain Leadership in Lithium-Ion Battery Manufacturing?

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Lithium-ion battery technology is one of the most important technologies of the 21st Century.  As vehicle fleets around the world electrify, lithium-ion batteries will become the new oil.  The companies and countries that dominate the development and manufacture of lithium-ion batteries are set to dominate the global vehicle industries of the next 50-100 years.

The importance of lithium-ion technology, however, goes well beyond cars.  Most of the technologies that will make the 21st Century different than the 20th Century will depend on electric power supplied free of a fixed electricity grid.  Consumer electronics, implantable medical devices, wearable technology, the Internet of Things, drones, light air transport, the integration of variable renewable energy into the electricity grid, and important weapons systems such as rail guns and high energy beams will all depend at least in part on lithium-ion batteries to supply them with electrical power.

It is almost axiomatic that the United States needs to be a leader in lithium-ion battery technology in order meaningfully to participate in the other 21st Century industries that batteries will power.

But in 2019 it is undisputed that the United States is falling farther and farther behind in the Great Battery Race.  Today about 73% of all lithium-ion batteries are made in China, a country that has spared little expense to dominate this very strategic technology.  Europe has just announced several major initiatives to ensure that it will have substantial domestic lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity.  The United States is standing still.

What can the United States do to catch up?  Does the United States have a chance?  Does it even really matter where lithium-ion battery cells are made?  Over the next several weeks, NAATBatt will use its weekly blog to solicit the views of U.S. industry leaders, academics and government officials as to these questions.

This is an important conversation.  NAATBatt invites your participation.  Feel free to contact me at jgreenberger@naatbatt.org if you have a view.

2019-10-25T20:53:02+00:00