WASHINGTON D.C. - September 28, 2023 - The Breakthrough Institute briefed congressional staff and members of the press on the findings of its latest report, Green Energy, Critical Minerals, and the Future of U.S. Public Policy at a briefing held on September 28, 2023, at the U.S. Capitol Building. The briefing highlighted some of the emerging challenges related to the United States’ shift toward clean energy and an increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Specifically, the emphasis was on the significant role of critical minerals and their broader implications for U.S. public policy.
Ashley Nunes, Director for Federal Policy, Climate and Energy at the Breakthrough Institute, commented on the gravity of the report’s discoveries, stating “Despite strict CAFE standards for non-EVs that aim to boost EV adoption, our data indicates that even with CAFE, mineral constraints could affect the pace of EV adoption." Nunes' remarks highlight the looming challenges in achieving set EV adoption goals, underscoring the pertinence of the institute's report.
The research unveiled deep insights into the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s new proposed rules, targeting an increase in nationwide EV sales. Concurrently, there's a drive to shift the mineral sourcing paradigm for EV batteries to diminish reliance on dominant Chinese suppliers, known for their complex socio-environmental dynamics. This combined initiative prompts questions about the U.S.'s capability to meet both objectives with its current mineral resource availability.
Elaborating on potential strategies and the Breakthrough Institute's recommendations, Seaver Wang, Co-Director for Climate and Energy, observed, “Our mineral demand estimates emphasize the need for dedicated policy initiatives that focus on expanding the production of battery raw materials, especially graphite and cobalt.”
The report's analysis revealed that the EPA's regulations set a benchmark for the sale of at least 10.2 million EVs between 2027 and 2032. A broader projection indicates potential sales nearing 28.1 million EVs if following a middle-of-the-road scenario. Yet, the existing mineral output from the U.S. and its allies might only cover the production of approximately 5.1 million EVs during this period. This scenario would drastically fall short of both the minimum and the middle-of-the-road targets. Moreover, if the U.S. restricts its EV deployment to just half of the necessary 10.2 million EVs, the consequences might include the addition of nearly 60 million tons of CO2 between 2027 and 2032. Tackling this disparity, in alignment with EPA's vision, would require a significant expansion in the annual production of battery graphite and cobalt, potentially growing by up to 880% and 42%, respectively.
To read the full report and its analysis, click here.
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Director for Federal Policy, Climate and Energy