Updated Sep 7, 2023 - Technology

How Biden's climate law is fueling the U.S. battery boom

Illustration of a battery wearing a US flag as a cape.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Separate new U.S. battery investments on Wednesday show powerful confidence in domestic market growth, which has climate law tailwinds.

Driving the news: The following events all happened on day alone.

  • They also share something in common with the classic Spinal Tap meme, in that activity in the sector is being cranked to the max.
  • Daimler Truck, Cummins and Paccar unveiled a joint venture that will invest $2-$3 billion in making cells for commercial vehicles and industrial uses.
  • Big players, including BlackRock and Temasek, are pouring $542 million in new equity investments into battery materials firm Ascend Elements.
  • Oman's wealth fund is investing an undisclosed sum in the U.S. battery firm Our Next Energy, per Oman's news agency and multiple reports.

Catch up fast: This week's announcements are just the latest in a long string of federally supported industry plans and investments — tens of billions worth — slated to make the U.S. a key battery player.

Yes, but: China still dominates the market.

How it works: President Joe Biden's signature 2022 climate law has industrial policy provisions that push domestic development from multiple angles.

  • There are subsidies for domestic manufacture of low-emissions energy equipment, including batteries.
  • Meanwhile, consumer EV purchase subsidies are tethered to vehicles with batteries and materials sources domestically or from free-trade partners.
  • In addition, the 2021 infrastructure helps as well. Ascend said it has received two grants totaling $480 million through that statute.

What they're saying: The 2022 law is "absolutely increasing demand for our sustainable engineered battery materials like cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM), which are made from recycled lithium-ion batteries," Ascend spokesman Thomas Frey tells Axios via email.

  • Cummins cited the manufacturing provisions, telling Axios the $35 per kilowatt-hour incentive "is expected to benefit customers by lowering the price of batteries."

The bottom line: Battery manufacturing growth was inevitable as the market grows, but the climate law is providing a charge.

Go deeper