DOE announces $5 million to launch lithium battery workforce initiative

WASHINGTON DC- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO, today announced the launch of a National Workforce Development Strategy for Manufacturing lithium batteries. As part of a $5 million investment, DOE will support up to five pilot training programs in the energy and automotive communities and advance workforce partnerships between the industry and workforce for the national lithium battery supply chain. Lithium batteries power everything from electric vehicles to consumer electronics, and are a critical part of President Biden’s whole-of-government decarbonization strategy. This workforce initiative will support the country’s global competitiveness in battery manufacturing while strengthening the national economy and clean energy supply chains.

“America’s leadership in the global battery supply chain will be based not only on our innovative advantage, but also on our skilled workforce of engineers, designers, scientists and production workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm“President Biden has a vision to achieve net zero emissions while creating millions of well-paying union jobs – and DOE’s battery partnerships with unions and industry are key to making that vision a reality.”

“President Biden has made creating good union jobs a cornerstone of his climate strategy,” said Liz Shuler, President of the AFL-CIO. “We commend the DOE for being proactive in engaging labor and management as the nation’s battery industry is being established, and we look forward to working with the DOE and DOL. to develop high-level training standards for the entire battery supply chain.”

“I am pleased to see the Department of Energy working with our industry partners to invest in the next generation of our clean energy workforce,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “While I remain concerned about our reliance on China and other foreign countries for key parts of the lithium-ion battery supply chain, engaging our strong and skilled workforce to manufacture batteries at the national level is an essential step in reducing our dependence on other countries and ensuring that we are able to maintain our energy security. I look forward to seeing this initiative grow, and we will continue to work closely to make sure we can offload the rest of the battery supply chain.

The pilot training programs will bring together manufacturing companies, unions and training providers to lay the groundwork for the development of a broad national workforce strategy. The pilot projects will support cooperation between industry and labor and provide sites for job analysis and documentation of worker skills. The knowledge gained will support the development of industry-recognized national benchmarks and inform the development of broader training programs to support the entire battery supply chain.

The initiative is part of a series of announcements from President Biden’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Communities and Economic Revitalization – a partnership between the White House and nearly a dozen federal agencies committed to pursuing short- and long-term actions to support the coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities as the nation transitions to a clean energy economy.

This announcement follows the DOE’s recent release of two Notices of Intent authorized by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to provide $3 billion to support projects that enhance domestic battery manufacturing and recycling. The funding, which will be made available in the coming months, will support the refining of battery materials, which will build national capacity for refining minerals such as lithium, as well as production plants, cell manufacturing facilities and battery packs and recycling facilities.

It also builds on progress made by the Biden-Harris administration and the DOE to ensure a sustainable and reliable national supply of critical minerals and materials needed for clean energy supply chains, including lithium. This includes $44 million in funding through the DOE Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery (MINER) program to fund technology research that increases mineral yield while reducing the energy required and subsequent emissions to mine and extract critical minerals such as lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt.

Recent reports underscore America’s need to develop and sustain a strong domestic battery supply chain workforce, including the President’s 100-Day Supply Chain Review and the DOE’s recently released supply chain review of the industrial base of the energy sector. Last year, the Federal Advanced Battery Consortium released the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021-2030, which calls on the United States and its partners to establish a secure supply chain of lithium battery materials and technologies. here 2030.

Michael A. Bynum