Home Electric Vehicle The EV Battery Provide Chain Defined

The EV Battery Provide Chain Defined

The EV Battery Provide Chain Defined



What are the issues within the EV battery provide chain and the way can we enhance it?

The transportation sector is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases within the US financial system, and about half its emissions come from light-duty autos alone. To keep away from the disastrous results of a 1.5°C enhance in international temperatures, we might want to substitute the greater than 300 million inner combustion engine (ICE) autos at the moment on the street with electrical autos (EVs).

Right now, there are about 2.5 million EVs on US roads. This quantity might want to enhance to 44 million by 2030 if we’re to succeed in net-zero emissions. Each one in every of these 44 million automobiles will should be powered by an electrical battery produced in an extended, complicated course of involving mining, refining, manufacturing, and meeting.

Whereas analysis findings predicting anticipated progress in EV demand varies, there may be consensus that it’s increasing and can proceed to take action: S&P International Mobility forecasts electrical automobile gross sales in the USA alone may attain 40% of whole passenger automotive gross sales by 2030, and extra optimistic projections foresee electrical automobile gross sales surpassing 50% by 2030.

To satisfy this rising demand for EVs, governments, policymakers, and private and non-private sectors all over the world might want to strengthen the worldwide EV battery provide chain.

Lately, billions of {dollars} have been invested within the EV battery provide chain for a lot of causes. Past addressing local weather change and assembly rising demand for EVs, this elevated funding is supposed to:

  • Present financial alternative and create new jobs
  • Improve the resilience of the worldwide provide chain by rising the variety of international locations concerned
  • Deal with human rights and environmental abuses related to the provision chain
  • Adjust to laws just like the Inflation Discount Act, which requires that an elevated proportion of EV battery provide chain actions happen in North America to be eligible for sure tax credit

By offering this overview of the EV battery provide chain, the challenges it faces, and alternatives to enhance it, we hope to present native and nationwide governments, policymakers, and personal and public sector actors a starting-point useful resource they will use to additional discover these necessary points. For extra data on EV batteries and the way they work, learn “EV Batteries 101: The Fundamentals.”

ev battery lifecycle graphic

What Is The EV Battery Provide Chain?

The time period provide chain describes the method by which a product is made and delivered to a shopper.

The steps concerned in producing and utilizing an EV battery fall into 4 common classes:

  • Upstream: Mines extract uncooked supplies; for batteries, these uncooked supplies sometimes comprise lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite.
  • Midstream: Processors and refiners purify the uncooked supplies, then use them to create cathode and anode energetic battery supplies; commodities merchants purchase and promote uncooked supplies to companies that produce battery cells.
  • Downstream: Battery producers assemble the battery cells into modules after which pack and promote them to automakers, who place the completed batteries in EVs. Some automakers like Ford and Stellantis have shaped partnerships with battery producers to provide their very own batteries for the autos they promote.
  • Finish of Life: When batteries now not serve their unique objective, they are often reused or recycled.

Offering Financial Alternatives & Creating New Jobs

Home investments to enhance the EV battery provide chain could have a spread of financial implications.

The transition to EVs represents a significant disruption to the automotive workforce, each by way of its general measurement and its geographic distribution across the nation. At present, greater than 10 million folks work within the US automotive trade. Since EVs are a lot easier to provide than ICE autos, the automotive trade may have fewer employees sooner or later.

Nevertheless, with general automotive gross sales declining after a peak in 2017, EVs are the one progress space within the automotive market, that means all future job progress within the trade will probably be in EV manufacturing and its provide chain. These new EV jobs won’t essentially be in states and areas the place ICE manufacturing jobs are immediately. That being mentioned, disruptions associated to EVs can have all types of financial advantages after they result in elevated entrepreneurship pathways and the event of recent industries round novel applied sciences. The expansion of Tesla, Rivian, and a spread of recent battery producers illustrates how this know-how transition has inspired startups to compete with legacy gamers, creating new competitors and incentives to innovate within the market. The transition to EVs is prone to proceed to foster innovation in one of the vital necessary sectors of the US financial system, creating quite a few productiveness ripple results all through the nation.

Localizing the EV battery provide chain additionally brings upstream funding alternatives, since batteries require a spread of crucial minerals, processing services, and part half manufacturing. For instance, in simply the few brief months because the Inflation Discount Act was handed, the USA has seen greater than $40 billion price of recent funding bulletins throughout the battery provide chain. These investments will help spur native financial growth by supporting surrounding industries, fostering spinoff entrepreneurship, and contributing to the event of trade clusters that enhance productiveness and progress.

Rising The Resilience Of The International EV Battery Provide Chain

The EV battery provide chain is dispersed all over the world — battery minerals journey a mean of 50,000 miles from extraction to battery cell manufacturing. On the identical time, a lot of the mineral provide is concentrated in only a few international locations. This dispersion and focus make the worldwide provide chain susceptible to disruptions, together with:

  • Excessive climate (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes that impression power inputs and disrupt infrastructure like pipelines and transport routes)
  • Geopolitics (e.g., the battle between Russia and Ukraine)
  • Altering commerce alliances between international locations or areas
  • Company consolidation: Right now, when one of many many firms concerned within the battery provide chain experiences a disruption, others are affected. As EV demand rises, it’s probably that there will probably be a number of large gamers that can oversee extra components of the method. If one (or extra) of those firms expertise disruptions, the consequences will probably be larger.
  • A change in supplies wanted as a consequence of new applied sciences: Battery chemistries and designs are altering rapidly; a lot of them use various and extra considerable supplies. These adjustments will have an effect on the provision chain community and the international locations and firms concerned.

These disruptions may end up in bottlenecks and negatively have an effect on the remainder of the battery provide chain; they will additionally impression economies, trigger delays for suppliers, enhance transportation prices, pressure employers to chop jobs, discourage funding, and hinder transportation decarbonization.

The International EV Battery Provide Chain Right now

China at the moment dominates the provision chain. As broader geopolitical points have an effect on financial and commerce relationships, the steadiness of the worldwide provide chain is more and more in danger when extracting, refining, processing, and assembling an outsized share of EV battery parts happens in any single nation.

A number of critics have described US efforts to extend home EV battery provide chain capability as an try to “de-couple” from China, which is an oversimplification. A extra correct evaluation is supplied by US Commerce Consultant Katherine Tai, who labels the present administration’s method “de-risking.” As the marketplace for EV batteries and different superior power applied sciences expands, there will probably be loads of progress alternatives for all producing nations, at the same time as that manufacturing capability diversifies.

It is very important acknowledge that strengthening the EV battery provide chain will not be a zero-sum recreation with winners and losers. Creating a sturdy provide chain will profit folks all over the world by offering financial alternative, creating jobs, and making it simpler for extra folks to buy EVs.

We are able to considerably bolster EV battery provide chains by advancing partnerships with different international locations, bettering rules, devoting extra sources to home battery manufacturing, and rising battery circularity.

Addressing Human Rights & Environmental Abuses

All over the world, the upstream portion of the EV battery provide chain (mining) is linked to human rights abuses, such because the use of kid and compelled labor. Many mines lack primary employee security measures — endangering employees’ lives — and extraction usually comes with an environmental price. Mining practices usually trigger floor and groundwater depletion, soil contamination, biodiversity loss, and different destructive penalties that may final for hundreds of years.

Right now, few automakers and battery producers know the place their battery minerals come from and the way they’re extracted (though we’ve got the facility to extend provide chain transparency with extra funding). In consequence, human rights abuses and environmental damages usually go undetected. A rising coalition of stakeholders are engaged on these points, together with activists and advocates, policymakers, regulators, these within the automotive trade, and others. Many within the extractive trade have additionally expressed a need to deal with these points. You possibly can learn extra about what’s being carried out to deal with human rights and environmental abuses within the Upstream part beneath.

Complying With Laws

The US authorities is investing in strengthening EV battery provide chains utilizing quite a lot of legislative instruments:

The Infrastructure Funding & Jobs Act

Handed in November 2021, the Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act offers funding for the packages and initiatives listed beneath, that are designed to deal with the above points.

The CHIPS and Science Act

Handed in August 2022, the CHIPS and Science Act will fund American semiconductor analysis, growth, and manufacturing, which is able to assist lower US reliance on China for the semiconductors utilized in EVs and lots of different applied sciences. Two packages will fund analysis and growth in superior manufacturing and supplies with a complete of $2 billion.

The Inflation Discount Act

Handed in August 2022, the Inflation Discount Act focuses on bettering clear power manufacturing and recycling; industrial decarbonization; crucial supplies processing, refining, and recycling; incentivizing home manufacturing; bettering provide chains; and electrifying heavy-duty autos. The Act:

Understanding how the EV battery provide chain works, and the challenges it faces, will assist us make efficient insurance policies to enhance it and cut back the harms related to it.


Mines extract uncooked supplies; for batteries, these uncooked supplies sometimes comprise lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite.

The “upstream” portion of the EV battery provide chain, which refers back to the extraction of the minerals wanted to construct batteries, has garnered appreciable consideration, and for good purpose.

Many fear that we gained’t extract these minerals rapidly sufficient to fulfill rising demand, which may result in rising costs for customers and gradual EV adoption. There’s additionally concern that the US is lacking out on financial alternatives, new jobs, and an opportunity to strengthen the provision chain.

Extra importantly, mining is routinely related to human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Sure mines have used or are utilizing baby and/or compelled labor to extract the minerals utilized in EV batteries; there are additionally many documented instances displaying the devastating results of mining on native communities and environments.

Internationally, there may be specific concern in regards to the destructive impacts of recent extractive developments on Indigenous communities. Within the United States, the vast majority of nickel, copper, lithium, and cobalt reserves lie inside 35 miles of Indian Nation.

Beneath we clarify the steps concerned within the upstream portion of the EV battery provide chain, reply 5 questions in regards to the challenges going through the mining trade, and describe what’s being carried out to deal with the trade’s destructive impacts.

What Is The “Upstream” Portion Of The EV Battery Provide Chain?

Within the upstream portion of the provision chain, mines extract uncooked supplies; for batteries, these uncooked supplies sometimes comprise lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite.

Due to the power required to extract and refine these battery minerals, EV manufacturing usually emits extra greenhouse gases per automotive than automobiles powered by fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the typical EV makes up for this distinction in lower than two years. Over a typical automobile’s lifetime, EVs produce considerably much less emissions than conventional autos, making them an important software to fight local weather change.

Lithium-ion batteries, the type that energy virtually all EVs, use 5 “crucial minerals”: lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite.

The Power Act of 2020 defines crucial minerals as a “non-fuel mineral or mineral materials important to the financial or nationwide safety of the U.S. and which has a provide chain susceptible to disruption.” There are round 35 minerals categorized as crucial.

Vital minerals are discovered internationally, however most economically viable deposits are present in only some locations. For example, a lot of the world’s cobalt is situated within the Democratic Republic of the Congo whereas lithium is concentrated in South America and Australia. Because of this geographic range, the provision chain for electrical autos is really international.

Do We Have Sufficient Minerals To Make The EV Batteries We Will Want?

Sure. Whereas demand for these minerals is already excessive and anticipated to develop considerably within the coming years, there are sufficient minerals to fulfill immediately and tomorrow’s EV wants.

The issue is that the upstream portion of the provision chain is unprepared to fulfill this demand. Right now, though there are sufficient minerals, there should not sufficient working mines.

Since it may take years to ascertain a mine, we have to transfer in a short time to make sure that provide can meet rising demand whereas additionally respecting the expressed wants of native communities. This work would require vital funding to take action: in the USA alone, we’ll want to speculate $175 billion within the subsequent two or three years to match China’s battery manufacturing.

How Do Mining Practices Contribute To Human & Environmental Injustice?

Right now’s mining practices can contain:

Little one and/or compelled labor: In keeping with the Worldwide Labor Group, greater than 1 million kids are engaged in baby labor in mines and quarries; many obtain little to no pay. These practices are a type of fashionable slavery.

Tailings storage are one other type of mine waste that harms native environments and residents. As soon as a mineral has been extracted from the ore, the remainder of the ore is disposed of. These leftovers are known as tailings and are often dumped in above-ground ponds held collectively by humanmade dams. When these dams collapse, they will trigger lethal mudslides that destroy farmlands and close by cities. Collapses also can pollute our bodies of water that native communities depend on for meals, agriculture, and earnings. Since 1915, greater than 250 tailings dam failures have been recorded all over the world, killing 2,650 folks. In 2019, a single dam failure at a mine in Brazil claimed the lives of 270 folks in a tragic on the spot.

Water air pollution and depletion: Drilling and excavation can contaminate floor water and groundwater reserves. As Earthworks notes, many mines within the US have traditionally failed to regulate their wastewater, which has led to polluted consuming water, hurt to native habitats and agriculture, and destructive public well being impacts. Globally, mines dump greater than 200 million tons of mining waste straight into lakes, rivers, and oceans yearly. Mining additionally requires large quantities of water; greater than 2 million liters of water are wanted to provide one ton of lithium. As a result of mining usually happens in arid and semi-arid areas, this may significantly stress native water provides for communities and ecosystems.

Gender discrimination throughout the mining trade: Regardless of girls’s vital contributions to mining, their work has been much less valued and fewer protected than that of males, based on the Worldwide Labour Group, which additionally notes that in large-scale mining operations, girls not often make up greater than 10 p.c of mineworkers. In lots of international locations girls are expressly prohibited by regulation from holding sure positions at mines.

What Are The Components That Contribute To Human & Environmental Injustice?

There are lots of elements that contribute to human rights abuses and environmental degradation, together with:

Some mineral reserves are in conflict-affected and high-risk areas: A lot of immediately’s working mines are in areas labeled as a conflict-affected and high-risk space (CAHRA), which the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth defines as locations “recognized by the presence of armed battle, widespread violence, or different dangers of hurt to folks.” The presence of civil and worldwide wars, insurgencies, political instability and repression, and corruption are some examples of things that decide whether or not an space is taken into account conflict-affected or excessive threat. On the time of this writing, the European Union has recognized 28 international locations with CAHRAs.

Financial dependence on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM): In contrast to large-scale mining, ASMs are operated by people, households, and/or teams and are sometimes casual and utterly unregulated, which ends up in little to no well being, security, or environmental protections. They don’t all the time use fashionable tools; some depend on instruments like shovels and pickaxes. Because the European Union notes, in some instances, ASMs are managed by armed teams, who use the extracted sources to finance conflicts.

Outdated mining legal guidelines: Present US legal guidelines governing mining don’t handle the complicated challenges going through the sector. For example, the Normal Mining Regulation of 1872 stays essentially the most outstanding mining regulation immediately in the USA. Governing the extraction of crucial minerals on federal lands, it has not been meaningfully up to date since President Ulysses S. Grant signed it greater than 150 years in the past to advertise westward enlargement. It doesn’t require mining firms to pay federal royalties to taxpayers and contains no environmental safety provisions. Legal guidelines equivalent to these don’t replicate the complexities of immediately’s mining practices; it’s particularly necessary that they require free, prior, and knowledgeable consent of Tribal nations, who usually bear the brunt of mining’s destructive impacts.

A scarcity of instruments to observe mining practices: With out good governance or transparency from organizations, there’s no strategy to definitively understand how most mines deal with their employees or have an effect on the encompassing setting. Journalists have been largely chargeable for uncovering human rights abuses and environmental degradation. We regularly depend on assurances from mining firms, which regularly show to be inaccurate or incomplete. That’s why we’d like third-party instruments to observe mining practices: we will need to have knowledge from trusted sources to meaningfully handle damaging operations and maintain unhealthy actors accountable whereas repeatedly requiring accountable practices.

What Is Being Achieved To Deal with Human Rights Abuses & Environmental Impacts?

Activists, advocates, policymakers, employers, governments, and others are working to combine environmental justice within the EV battery provide chain by:

Onshoring/reshoring/good friend shoring efforts: Although removed from a whole resolution, investing in EV provide chain capability inside the USA and its allies will assist diversify provide and restrict publicity to human rights abuses and detrimental environmental impacts. When upstream provide is concentrated in a number of international locations, downstream purchasers have little leverage over their suppliers’ human rights and environmental practices. Typically, the USA and its allies have sturdy oversight over human rights considerations and high-quality environmental protections, though there may be all the time room for enchancment. The objective right here will not be self-reliance, nevertheless, however slightly larger range and competitors, serving to put stress on all international locations to stick to improved requirements.

Main efforts to replace laws: On the time of this writing, the Biden administration is convening an Interagency Working Group on Mining Laws, Legal guidelines, and Allowing, which is able to present suggestions to Congress on how you can reform mining regulation to incorporate provisions that shield the setting, contain native communities, and cut back the time, price, and threat of mine allowing. Likewise, the Initiative for Accountable Mining Assurance (IRMA), has supplied suggestions to the Division of State’s Clear Power Assets Advisory Committee relating to what ought to be included in these updates. The US Division of State’s Minerals Safety Partnership has additionally lately introduced rules marking a public dedication to full integration of environmental, social, and governance requirements into its work.

Bettering EV provide chain transparency: “Battery passports” will help producers certify the place battery minerals are sourced and confirm that these sources are following globally acknowledged moral practices.

Convening stakeholders to drive motion. IRMA brings collectively trade, affected communities, governments, and others to offer an impartial third-party verification and certification in opposition to a complete normal for all mined supplies that gives “one-stop protection” of the complete vary of points associated to the impacts of industrial-scale mines.

Automakers are additionally making commitments to make sure that supplies are ethically sourced. For example, Ford requests that suppliers supply uncooked mined supplies from entities dedicated to and/or licensed by IRMA.

Though the upstream portion of the EV battery provide chain faces many challenges, we will handle them with funding, improved legal guidelines and rules, and public consciousness. These steps will assist be certain that we’ve got the batteries we’d like for an electrified transportation future with out harming folks or the planet.


Processors and refiners purify the uncooked supplies, then use them to create cathode and anode energetic battery supplies. Commodity merchants purchase and promote supplies to producers who then assemble battery cells.

The “midstream” portion of the EV battery provide chain has the facility to enhance provide chain traceability, a observe wherein merchandise are tracked from their supply to the buyer. Since firms taking part within the midstream portion of the EV battery provide chain are those that work together most straight with upstream actors, they’re important to bettering traceability and making certain that supplies are ethically sourced.

One other situation that has garnered some consideration is the truth that EV battery manufacturing is concentrated in a handful of nations, elevating considerations that offer chains might be susceptible to geopolitical shocks or commerce wars.

Many additionally imagine that American communities are lacking out on the financial alternatives related to the power transition. This situation has been the topic of congressional motion and is mirrored in latest laws such because the Inflation Discount Act, which incorporates provisions that require {that a} sure proportion of EV battery minerals be extracted and processed in the USA or a rustic with which the USA has a free-trade settlement (FTA).

That will help you perceive these points and what’s being carried out to deal with them, we’ve supplied a definition of midstream actions and compiled a listing of solutions to widespread questions relating to these actions.

What Is The “Midstream” Portion Of The EV Battery Provide Chain?

After mines extract uncooked supplies (the upstream portion of the EV battery provide chain), they’re despatched to services the place they’re processed, refined, and assembled into battery cells.

Processing entails eradicating unneeded supplies from the minerals. Refining entails working with these processed supplies to realize a purity degree that makes them appropriate to be used in lots of merchandise, together with batteries. Producers then use these supplies to make anode and cathode electrodes which are positioned into battery cells, which retailer power.*

After the midstream merchandise are prepared, producers mix them into giant battery packs and place them in EVs. These final two steps are a part of the “downstream” portion of the EV battery provide chain, described beneath.

*(It’s necessary to notice that there isn’t any single trade consensus on whether or not battery cell manufacturing belongs to the midstream or downstream portion of the EV provide chain. RMI considers cell manufacturing a part of the midstream portion.)

The place Do The Processing, Refining, & Battery Cell Steps Take Place?

Just like the upstream portion of the EV battery provide chain, the midstream portion is concentrated in a small variety of international locations, largely exterior of the USA.

Asia dominates the midstream portion: based on BloombergNEF, China, South Korea, and Japan are the world’s three prime battery manufacturing international locations, with China dominating.

China produces three-quarters of all lithium-ion batteries and 70 p.c of cathode capability and processes and refines greater than half of the world’s lithium, cobalt, and graphite. It’s the main refiner of battery metals globally and at the moment hosts 75 p.c of all battery cell manufacturing capability, 90 p.c of anode and electrolyte manufacturing, and 60 p.c of the world’s battery part manufacturing.

The subsequent two international locations on the record, South Korea and Japan, are chargeable for considerably much less battery manufacturing (South Korea produces 15 p.c of the world’s cathode electrodes and three p.c of its anode electrodes; Japan accounts for 14 p.c and 11 p.c, respectively).

How Robust Is The US’ Midstream?

The US is at the moment not a midstream chief; nevertheless, its midstream capability is rising rapidly, pushed partially by the Superior Manufacturing Manufacturing Credit score (45X) which gives as much as $45 per KWh of battery capability and has the potential to strengthen the US midstream sector.

The US additionally has present aggressive benefits in automotive manufacturing that it may use to compete within the international EV provide chain, serving to to leverage the financial advantages of transport decarbonization. As famous above, laws just like the IRA will assist — it requires that to be eligible for a automobile tax credit score, a rising proportion of an EV’s battery metallic worth have to be extracted or processed in the USA or in a associate nation with an FTA.

Beneath this final provision, eligible international locations like Australia, which provides about 60 p.c of the world’s lithium and has an present FTA, would qualify; Indonesia, estimated to account for 37 p.c of international nickel manufacturing, wouldn’t. Steerage launched by the US Treasury in March 2023 additionally proposes a set of rules for figuring out the international locations with which the USA has an FTA in impact; this time period may embrace newly negotiated crucial mineral agreements. For instance, Japan signed a crucial mineral settlement in March with the USA, permitting the Treasury so as to add that nation to its record of authorized suppliers.

These dynamics, simply misplaced within the legislative high-quality print, will turn into main forces in shaping the geography of battery manufacturing within the coming many years.

Why Is Geographic Range Vital In The Midstream Portion Of The EV Battery Provide Chain?

If the battery provide chain, or parts of it, are concentrated in only a few international locations or areas, the worldwide battery provide chain will undergo ought to any of those locations be confronted with disruptions like pure disasters, geopolitics, or altering commerce alliances.

Some observers have recommended that efforts to spice up native manufacturing capability implies that each nation ought to attempt to dominate all parts of the EV battery provide chain. Not solely is that this domination unimaginable, it’s additionally undesirable.

That’s why it’s necessary that extra international locations, together with the USA, work on strengthening their EV battery provide chains; in the event that they do, international EV battery manufacturing will probably be higher capable of climate these disruptions.

How Can The Midstream Portion Of The EV Battery Provide Chain Assist Deal with Human & Environmental Injustice?

Customers and automakers are more and more involved with how the supplies that go into EV batteries are extracted. They don’t need their EVs to be powered by minerals obtained by means of slave labor or mining practices that destroy native environments. However because of the opacity of EV battery provide chains, it’s very troublesome for them to search out out whether or not their batteries are responsibly sourced.

Midstream actors are uniquely positioned to deal with the human rights abuses and environmental degradation related to the upstream (mining) portion of the provision chain (you may learn extra about these points within the part above). As talked about on the prime of this text, firms that course of and refine the minerals that go into EV batteries work together most straight with those who extract these minerals, which signifies that they’ve buying energy. If these concerned within the midstream portion of the provision chain needed to comply with sturdy due diligence procedures and have been topic to strong audits, they may keep away from shopping for supplies from firms with questionable or downright unethical mining practices. Mines can be compelled to enhance or else face vital monetary losses. Additionally, trade leaders may benefit from investing in accountable manufacturing in the identical means fairtrade espresso sells at a premium.

As we word above and in one other article, bettering provide chain traceability would go a great distance in making certain that EV battery minerals are ethically sourced. Expertise can substitute present paper trails with on-line programs that can present firms and regulators with a better strategy to observe, audit, and enhance their provide chains — however any know-how is simply as efficient as its stakeholder participation on the platform.

What Efforts Are Underway To Enhance EV Battery Provide Chain Traceability?

Battery passports” that observe the place and the way battery minerals are sourced may assist enhance the provision chain’s transparency. They might function a battery’s digital twin, which follows the bodily battery because it makes its means from mineral extraction to placement within the automobile.

Laws may additionally enhance battery traceability. The European Council lately adopted a brand new rule requiring firms to conduct due diligence alongside their complete provide chain. However in an effort to succeed, legislative efforts will want buy-in from numerous ranges of stakeholders, together with nationwide and subnational governments and personal sector leaders. Previous efforts to enhance sourcing, equivalent to the USA’ Battle Minerals Rule, have largely foundered. Traceable, moral provide chains stay an elusive however important part of the power transition.

Client demand, investor stress, regulatory enhancements, and accountable enterprise practices all have a crucial position to play in making certain safe and moral provide chains for EV batteries.


Battery producers assemble the battery cells into modules after which packs and promote them to automakers, who place the completed batteries in EVs. Some automakers like Ford and Stellantis have shaped partnerships with battery producers to provide their very own batteries for the autos they promote.

What Is The “Downstream” Portion Of The EV Battery Provide Chain?

The downstream portion of the EV battery provide chain entails the meeting of battery cells into modules after which packs earlier than inserting completed batteries into EVs. (To be taught extra about how EV batteries work and the way they’re made, learn “EV Batteries 101: The Fundamentals.”)

To make a battery module, producers stack battery cells in sequence or in parallel in a metallic body that protects the cells from the shocks and vibrations that include driving. Modules home a number of battery cells, starting from fewer than 10 to a number of hundred, relying on the cell sort and automobile vary.

These battery modules are then positioned right into a battery pack. Along with battery modules, the battery pack contains different parts that shield the battery and assist it function inside an EV. All of those parts are housed in a construction to guard the battery from water, salt, and different exterior components that may harm the battery as an entire. These batteries are then despatched to automakers who place them into EVs.

The place Do Downstream Actions Take Place?

Chinese language, South Korean, and Japanese firms dominate international battery manufacturing; collectively, these international locations accounted for practically 70% of the battery market in 2021. The highest three firms have been China’s CATL (33%), South Korea’s LG Power Answer (22%), and Japan’s Panasonic (15%). China’s dominance has been attributed to its prioritization and funding in battery manufacturing, whereas South Korea’s and Japan’s rankings have been influenced by strategically constructing on their in depth expertise and experience in manufacturing shopper electronics.

How Robust Is The US Downstream Sector?

Whereas the provision chain will stay international, North America is poised to turn into the second-largest participant within the battery manufacturing market because of its efforts to strengthen native provide chains and enhance investments in home meeting, based on a report from consulting agency LEK.

Right now, the USA is chargeable for solely 7% of the world’s battery manufacturing capability. As with the midstream portion of the provision chain, the Superior Manufacturing Manufacturing Credit score (45X), which gives as much as $45 per KWh of battery capability, is anticipated to strengthen the US downstream sector.

The present 72 GWh of battery manufacturing capability in the USA — which incorporates midstream and downstream operations — may develop to over 1,000 GWh in simply the subsequent two years, as latest bulletins and services at the moment beneath development come on-line.

There are lots of causes the USA is rising its home investments within the downstream portion of the EV battery provide chain; chief amongst them is a need to scale back reliance on abroad suppliers in sure nations, significantly China. By diversifying the provision chain for EVs and the batteries that energy them, automakers will be capable to endure disruptions in international provide chains and meet rising home and international demand. They’ll even be higher capable of meet their bold local weather targets and mitigate human rights and environmental abuses related to mining.

How Will American Communities Profit From Stronger Home Provide Chains?

A stronger home provide chain interprets to well-paying, in-demand jobs for employees in numerous fields starting from mining to engineering to manufacturing, which in flip leads to more healthy, strong economies.

Federal laws just like the Inflation Discount Act and the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act are already transferring the needle. These two legal guidelines present at the least $83 billion in loans, grants, and tax credit that might assist the manufacturing of low- or zero-emission autos, batteries, or chargers, based on an evaluation from Atlas Public Coverage (APP). RMI estimates that if the USA have been to deploy EVs on the pace required to fulfill net-zero targets, this spending may attain over $200 billion since key tax credit don’t have any higher spending restrict.

In response to authorities investments and rules, automakers are additionally upping their investments in EV manufacturing, assured that funding and demand will proceed to develop. The APP evaluation notes that US-based firms, led by Ford, Normal Motors, Tesla, and Stellantis, have introduced that they’ll make investments greater than $173 billion within the transition to EVs.

One other vital market shift is elevated partnership between automakers and battery producers. For instance, Ford is engaged on diversifying its uncooked materials suppliers and Normal Motors and LG have partnered to co-locate battery pack and cell manufacturing; on the time of this writing, they’ve one energetic plant in Ohio and have plans to open two others in Tennessee and Michigan. Some are planning to create manufacturing services that home each battery and EV vegetation, whereas different downstream producers are creating contracts that allow them to supply straight from accountable mines.

Different international locations and areas are additionally engaged on bettering their home EV battery provide chains. The European Union has introduced bold plans to strengthen regional EV manufacturing whereas Indonesia and Thailand goal to turn into regional market leaders by profiting from the truth that they already function necessary automobile manufacturing hubs for international markets in addition to wealthy upstream mineral and metallic provides.

How Can Downstream Actors Mitigate Human Rights & Environmental Abuses?

Whereas downstream affect is proscribed by the present provide of the minerals that go into EV batteries, battery producers and automakers nonetheless have appreciable affect in bettering the EV battery provide chain for one easy purpose — downstream actors can affect accountable mining practices in the identical means espresso outlets can affect accountable espresso farming.

Customers and automakers are involved about human rights and environmental abuses and are subsequently making use of rising stress on upstream actors to enhance their mining practices. This stress has resulted in company commitments to implement stronger insurance policies to guard native communities, employees, and the setting.

More and more, firms, together with automakers, will demand to see auditable data displaying the place crucial minerals like nickel and cobalt come from. So far, these programs are simply starting to take form, led by a handful of enterprising companies and know-how startups. Coupled with strong home laws and rules in addition to internationally harmonized insurance policies governing EV battery provide chains, destructive impacts related to the provision chains may lower.

Shifting Ahead

It’s an thrilling time for transportation electrification, a motion that positive factors momentum every day. As we collectively work towards decarbonizing the best way folks and items transfer, it’s necessary that governments, policymakers, the non-public and public sector, and communities perceive the EV battery worth chain so we will successfully handle its challenges whereas additionally realizing electrification’s financial, well being, and environmental potential.

By Alessandra R. Carreon, © 2021 Rocky Mountain Institute. Printed with permission. Initially posted on RMI.


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Photo voltaic PV & Farming — Traits In Agrivoltaics

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Sadly, the media enterprise remains to be a troublesome, cut-throat enterprise with tiny margins. It is a unending Olympic problem to remain above water and even maybe — gasp — develop. So …

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