In July, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden committed his administration to mounting what he called a “whole of government” effort to establish secure supply chains for the technology needed to create his targeted transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles. One crucial target for that effort is to liberate supply chains for lithium and other minerals needed for batteries to power the EVs and provide energy storage for wind and solar generation from dominance by China.
Progress towards this objective has been slow to develop in the intervening 18 months since Biden’s announcement, and China has made clear that it will not stand still. Last week, the Bolivian government announced it has chosen a consortium led by Chinese battery maker CATL to help develop that country’s huge reserves of lithium. The deal provides China with a foothold in South America’s Lithium Triangle, the world’s biggest known store of lithium which straddles the borders between Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. It is a reserve of lithium the U.S. would like to be able to tap for its own future needs.
The Biden administration received better news Monday, as battery maker Statevolt announced the successful acquisition of 135 acres near the Salton Sea in Southern California to serve as the site of its planned 54GWh Gigafactory. Statevolt plans to manufacture both transportation and stationary storage batteries using supply chains for lithium and its other needs sourced entirely in the United States. Statevolt says its battery plant will be technology-agnostic and utilize a modular production process that will create a high degree of versality, enabling the manufacture of a variety of battery products in what has become a rapidly-evolving technology space.