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Lithium miner Albemarle received a $149 million federal grant for a lithium processing plant. Pictured above, the company's brine operation in Silver Peak, Nev. Photo: The Electric

The Electric: U.S. Battery Subsidies Go Far but Perhaps Not Far Enough

Photo: Lithium miner Albemarle received a $149 million federal grant for a lithium processing plant. Pictured above, the company's brine operation in Silver Peak, Nev. Photo: The Electric

New U.S. subsidies have begun to attract investments in electric vehicle batteries, including a decision announced Wednesday by Tesla to relocate some of its battery cell manufacturing from Germany to the U.S. But a public-private group linked to the U.S. Department of Energy says the $250 billion U.S. effort still falls substantially short, and is urging the government and industry to do much more to build a U.S. EV battery industry.

In a new report, Li-Bridge, a public-private alliance led by Argonne National Laboratory, a federally funded research facility, said one of the most critical shortcomings is that the U.S. is a decade behind China in developing a workforce with battery manufacturing skills. “This is the challenge of our time. We’ve got to get this right,” Venkat Srinivasan, lead coordinator of Li-Bridge and a battery scientist at Argonne, told me. “Frankly, if you don’t have a workforce, it’s fantastic that everyone is building a battery plant every week—but guess what, it’s going to collapse because we are short of people.”

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