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USEA To Hold Virtual Press Briefing on April 22 -- Lithium-ion Battery Shortage Could Threaten EV Megatrend

Experts Will Probe Supply Chain Threat

McKinsey & Company has pointed out the extreme pressure on lithium supply and suggested that the only mitigation may be improved mining techniques. The situation is grave.”
— Llewellyn King
WASHINGTON, DC, USA, April 18, 2022 / -- Electrification is the megatrend for the energy sector. Utilities are gearing up for a surge in electric vehicles and huge fleets, like those of Amazon and UPS. New York State legislators have just agreed a budget that includes committing the state to 100 percent electric school buses by 2035.

Likewise, batteries are the storage favored by utilities and microgrids. The electric future is at hand, or is it?

This surge forward, driven by environmental concerns and the desire to go green quickly, faces one ominous hurdle: the lithium-ion battery and its precarious supply chain. While electrification of everything is cheered everywhere, there appears to be danger in depending on the lithium-ion battery as none of the principal components are sourced in the United States.

Lithium is in such demand that the price has risen nearly 500 percent in one year, and Elon Musk has hinted at getting into lithium mining. Sixty percent of the cobalt in today’s batteries comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nickel is sourced in Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia. Copper is more widely sourced, but Chile is the largest producer.

Already, electrification has been slowed in the car industry by the chip shortage. Are batteries next?

The United States Energy Association has scheduled another of its virtual press briefings for Friday, April 22, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time to examine the constraints that the battery supply chain may bring to the utility industry and what are the alternatives.

The briefing will feature a panel of energy-wise reporters questioning a panel of experts on batteries and the utility supply chain. USEA Acting Executive Director Sheila Hollis will open the briefing. Journalist Llewellyn King, who organized the briefing, will serve as moderator.

“McKinsey & Company has pointed out the extreme pressure on lithium supply and suggested that the only mitigation may be improved mining techniques. Until new mines in new countries, or new light battery technologies come to market, the situation is grave,” King said.

The experts:

John Howes, Principal, Redland Energy Group
Stephanie Shaw, Technical Executive, Electric Power Research Institute
Ned Mamula, Economic Geologist and Author, “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence”
Scott Aaronson, Senior Vice President of Security and Preparedness, Edison Electric Institute

The reporters:

Ken Silverstein, Forbes
Herman Trabish, Utility Dive
Peter Behr, E&E News
Linda Gasparello, “White House Chronicle” on PBS

The briefing is open to the media and the public. Questions can be submitted in the Zoom Q&A, but the media's questions will be taken first, time permitting. Following the briefing, a recording will be made available on the USEA website.

Register here:

Llewellyn King
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