Statevolt, a battery cell manufacturing company, has secured a site for their gigafactory in the Imperial Valley. As the American sister to their Italian counterpart, Italvolt, the company is seeking to rapidly expand its battery production facilities to the United States by capturing funding created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Statevolt CEO Lars Carlstrom says he’s hopeful that they’ll be able to break ground on the 54 GWh factory as early as August or September 2024. In addition, Carlstrom hopes to have the first batteries rolling off the lines just 18 months later. Eventually, after a few years of ramping up, the factory should be able to produce 650,000 batteries annually, which would make it one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The company’s ultimate ambition is to produce their batteries using materials and supply chains entirely from the United States. Achieving this goal would make Statevolt’s cells incredibly attractive to U.S. electric vehicle manufacturers seeking to qualify for the Inflation Reduction Act rebates, which require that vehicles meet certain thresholds for domestic manufacturing and material sourcing.
Statevolt has chosen the Imperial Valley to host its plant due to the rich lithium reserves in the Salton Sea. As dot.LA reported last spring, the company has forged a partnership with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), one of the three major companies racing to commercialize direct lithium extraction in the region. Under the terms of the partnership, CTR would provide the lithium and Statevolt would produce the batteries and sell them to OEMs. CTR is still in the process of scaling their technology to the industrial level, but Carlstrom says he’s confident in their protocol and process. Adding that, “they are still on track with a 2025 timeline, when they can start producing both energy and lithium.”
Carlstrom and Statevolt had initially planned to put their gigafactory right next to CTR’s lithium extraction plant. But the permitting process for the location proved tricky, and with so much new funding up for grabs in the Inflation Reduction Act, the company wanted to accelerate their timelines and ultimately decided on a different, less complicated site, about half an hour a way.
The last piece of the puzzle in the region that Statevolt and CTR are looking for, Carlstrom says, is a refinery that can take the raw materials from the CTR plant and process it into battery grade lithium for Statevolt to use in the batteries. “If you need to send the lithium into China to refine it, and then send it back, then you're losing the hyperlocal narrative,” says Carlstrom. That narrative is important both from a carbon footprint perspective–shipping lithium across the Pacific and back is incredibly emission-intensive–but also may prove important to meet the increasingly stringent guidelines outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act.
If Carlstrom’s “hyperlocal” battery production vision works in the Imperial Valley, he says the company may try to replicate the experiment in other locations across the country in the coming years.
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