Lithium-ion roadblocks drive development of US-based alternatives for grid battery storage – by Elizabeth McCarthy (Utility Dive – April 5, 2022)

Lithium-ion batteries are the dominant technology used for energy storage today but since the start of the war in Ukraine, the price of imported lithium has gone up twofold, said MIT professor Yang Shao-Horn. It is “now the most expensive component” in lithium-ion batteries, she told conference participants. The price of other key metals has also soared.

“This sharp increase in the cost of lithium potentially can drive other [storage] technologies and move them faster,” she said, pointing to sodium-ion battery chemistries as one example. This technology is “moving rapidly,” nearly matching lithium-ion’s battery performance, with costs expected to be “substantially lower,” Shao-Horn noted.

President Biden highlighted the need for domestically-sourced technologies March 31 when invoking the Defense Production Act to reduce reliance on foreign imports of key elements and metals used in the soaring grid battery storage and EV markets.

Biden’s move authorizes the Department of Defense “to support the production and processing of minerals and materials used for large capacity batteries” while ensuring “strong environmental, labor, community, and tribal consultation standards.”

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