Panasonic’s recent $4 billion battery plant in De Soto, Kansas, is designed as a model of sustainability – it all-electric factory without the necessity to use a chimney. When accomplished, it would be the scale of 48 football pitches, employ 4,000 people and produce enough advanced batteries to power half one million electric cars a yr.

But there may be a catch, and it’s a giant one.

Although the factory will probably be powered by wind and solar energy more often than not, renewable energy sources provided only 34% electricity from the local company Everrgy in 2023.

In a lot of the United States, fossil fuels still play a key role in meeting energy demand. In fact, Everrgy asked for permission extend the lifetime of an old coal-fired power plant to meet the growing demand, including: from the battery factory.

I used to be there with my students at Wellesley College tracking the expansion of investments in clean energy production and the way these projects – including battery, solar panel and wind turbine production and their supply chains – map on the national energy grid.

The Kansas battery plant highlights the challenges ahead because the United States increases production of fresh energy technologies and transitions away from fossil fuels. It also illustrates the industry’s potential to speed up the transition to renewable energy across the country.

Boom within the production of fresh technologies

Let’s start with the excellent news.

In the battery sector alone, firms have announced plans to construct 44 large factories that may give you the option to produce enough battery cells to power greater than 10 million electric vehicles per yr in 2030.

This is the dimensions of commitment needed if the United States goes to address climate change and meet recent auto emissions standards announced in March 2024.

The challenge: These battery factories and the electric vehicles they equip would require quite a lot of electricity.

Producing enough battery cells According to one researcher, to store 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity – enough to drive 2 to 6 miles in an electric automobile – requires about 30 kWh of production energy. recent research.

Combining these estimates and our trackingWe project that in 2030, U.S. battery production would require roughly 30 billion kWh of electricity per yr, assuming the factories are powered by electricity, just like the one in Kansas. This equates to roughly 2% of all U.S. industrial electricity consumption in 2022.

Huge solar potential of the battery belt

Numerous these plants are planned for a region of the southern United States called “battery beltThe potential of solar energy is high in much of the region, but the facility grid does there’s little use in it.

Our tracking has been found that three-quarters of battery production capability is situated within the states lower than average production of electricity from renewable sources Today. Almost all of those places will see more demand marginal emissionsbecause this extra power almost at all times comes from fossil fuels.

But we also track which battery firms are committing to powering their manufacturing operations with renewable energy, and the information points to a cleaner future.

By our calculations, half of the batteries will probably be produced in factories which have committed to sourcing at the least 50% of their electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. Moreover, these commitments are concentrated in US regions where investment is lagging.

Some firms are already taking motion. Tesla is constructing the world’s largest solar panel on the roof of his factory in Texas. LG has committed to supply 100% renewable solar and hydro energy for a brand new cathode plant in Tennessee. Panasonic is taking steps to achieve this net zero emissions for all its factories, including the brand new one in Kansas, by 2030.

Greater corporate commitments could help boost demand for wind and solar power within the emerging battery belt.

What does this mean for electricity demand within the US?

Producing all these batteries and charging all these electric vehicles will put way more demand on the facility grid. But this is just not an argument against electric vehicles. Anything that may be connected to the grid, whether it’s an electric vehicle or a factory producing batteries, is getting cleaner as more renewable energy sources grow to be available.

This transition is already happening. Although natural gas dominates electricity generation, in 2023 Renewable energy sources provided more electricity than coal for the primary time in US history. The government forecasts that in 2024, 96% of latest electricity generation capability added to the grid, including batteries, will probably be fossil fuel-free. These trends are gaining momentum, thanks incentives for the use of fresh energy included within the Act on Reducing Inflation by 2022.

Looking to the longer term

The most vital lesson is that the challenge in Kansas is just not the battery plant – however the increasingly outdated electric grid.

As we speed up investment in a clean energy future, America can have to do exactly that redesign much of its energy grid use increasingly more renewable energy sources and at the identical time electrify every little thing, from cars to factories to homes.

This implies that investing within the modernization, expansion and decarbonization of the electricity grid is as necessary as constructing recent factories or switching to electric cars.

Investments in clean energy production will play a key role in enabling this transition: among the recent advanced batteries will probably be used on the grid, ensuring backup energy storage at times when renewable energy production is declining or electricity demand is especially high.

In January, Hawaii replaced its own the last coal power plant with a complicated battery system. It won’t be long before this starts happening in Tennessee, Texas and Kansas, too.

This article was originally published on :

The post America’s green manufacturing boom, from electric vehicle batteries to solar panel production, isn’t yet fueled by renewable energy first appeared on 360WISE MEDIA.