by Audrey Mayer
Tue, June 18th 2024 at 9:13 PM
Updated Wed, June 19th 2024 at 6:33 AM

Watch on KRXI Fox 11 News: Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm tours the American Battery Technology Company on June 18, 2024

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & FOX 11) — Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm traveled to Northern Nevada to speak at Truckee Meadows Community College and visit American Battery Technology Company’s first-of-its-kind lithium-ion battery production facility in Sparks.

Nevada is one of Secretary Granholm’s key stops to hone in on the Biden Administration’s ‘Investing in America’ agenda to bring more clean energy and infrastructure jobs to the United States, as the Silver State has turned into a hub for clean energy production, specifically by ramping up the lithium-ion battery supply chain.

“Nevada is benefiting from this as well. Nineteen companies have announced that they are opening because of the Inflation Reduction Act here, so it’s very exciting to be able to compete with China and really not allow all of these jobs to leave without us doing something about it,” Secretary Granholm told local reporters Tuesday.

American Battery Technology Company’s new facility in Sparks uses a closed loop system that takes lithium bearing clay stone from a small rural mining town in Tonopah in Central Nevada and extracts the lithium to make a battery-grade lithium product.

“The US is really missing a strong domestic supply chain for a lot of these battery materials, specifically lithium,” said Mitch Dreier, Director of Engineering at ABTC. “A lot of that is imported from across the Pacific and so having a domestic supply, specifically in Nevada with the support of the Department of Energy… we are trying to do a new technology that is, faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the competition.”

ABTC received $115 million to construct the Sparks facility, with the goal of ramping up the domestic supply chain for harnessing metals to make more lithium ion batteries in the U.S.

“When you try to bring a brand new technology like this to market, you start off with a very small bench scale level, of which we’ve won some grants for the small scale work. Then you build pilot plants and then you build commercial scale systems. It’s difficult for private investors to get involved in that very early stage. When you’re doing basic R&D, when you’re building pilot facilities, which of themselves don’t really generate revenue, but they’re development steps to build a big commercial scale refinery, which then can be very lucrative. The Department of Energy has been great support in the early stage research and the piloting to get through that risk curve, to now get us to a point where we have large amounts of private investors interested as we go to build a commercial scale refineries,” said Ryan Melsert, CEO of ABTC.

Less than 1% of the international manufacturing capacity of metals to make lithium-ion batteries happens currently in the U.S., and Secretary Granholm says ramping up efforts at facilities like ABTC’s will reduce the U.S.’s energy dependence on other nations.

Secretary Granholm also discussed the Biden Administration’s plan to help low income families weatherize their homes to save on energy costs and talked about the Biden Administration’s strategy to invest in clean energy through tax credits and by partnering with community colleges and unions.

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