This summer the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) hosted the Battery Critical Materials Supply Chain Opportunities Workshop, where I had the opportunity to provide remarks alongside my colleagues, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Steve Winberg, and Assistant Secretary for Energy and Natural Resources at the State Department, Frank Fannon. During my keynote I was excited to announce a Request for Information, for input on the current state of battery cathode material supply. A follow-up workshop (tentatively scheduled for this fall) aims to help develop a diverse, domestic battery supply chain in the next five years.
President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13817 to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals. Since then, the Department of Commerce has published its Federal Strategy assigned to them under the E.O., and the Administration continues its hard work to ensure our progress. This means decreasing our nation’s reliance on imports from countries that do not share our values, while preserving our leadership in technological innovation, supporting job creation, and improving our national security and balance of trade.
The Department of Energy (DOE)’s strategy in addressing E.O. 13817 focuses on three pillars: 1) diversifying supply, 2) developing substitutes, and 3) driving recycling, reuse, and more efficient use of these minerals. Within EERE, our Advanced Manufacturing Office, Vehicle Technologies Office, Geothermal Technologies Office, and Wind Energy Technologies Office have made significant contributions in reducing or eliminating potential dependencies on critical minerals.
Last year, I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, as did Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power, Dave Solan. Our testimonies highlighted the work being done within DOE to address the reliability and security of America’s critical minerals supply chains.
In October of last year, EERE and the Office of Fossil Energy (FE) co-hosted a Critical Materials Rare Earths Supply Chain Workshop bringing together industry, the interagency, and likeminded foreign partners leading to a constructive conversation in learning supply chain challenges. (A white paper from the meeting has recently been published.) The following month, I had the pleasure of traveling to Belgium to an international technical R&D exchange on critical minerals. This visit emphasized to our partners -- our dedication to addressing the challenges to securing critical minerals supply chains.
To further address supply chain challenges, EERE’s Battery Recycling Prize is looking to identify innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent lithium-ion batteries and enable domestic recyclers to reach economies of scale by providing higher-volume feedstocks.
In addition to the Battery Recycling Prize, EERE funds the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at the Ames National Laboratory (ANL). CMI is in its eighth year of operation and has issued 141 invention disclosures, filed 55 patent applications, received 15 patents, created two-open-source software packages, and licensed nine technologies to U.S. companies. In June, Secretary Brouillette visited ANL and wrote an op-ed highlighting its role in “advancing transformational research, development, and solution deployment across the entire critical materials supply chain.”
The pandemic has underscored the need for reliable and secure domestic supply chains. As the Secretary has noted, the post-pandemic American economic recovery is going to be powered by American energy and innovation. The work we do at EERE to diversify supply, develop substitutes, and drive reuse and recycling is essential in achieving resilient supply chains to ensure our economic and national security.