Since the beginning of 2021, more than 15 new US lithium-ion battery gigafactories or expansions have been announced in a region becoming known as the Battery Belt. Combined, these facilities represent a potential investment of at least $40 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. All but one gigafactory exceeds 10 GWh of capacity, and the largest will exceed 40 GWh.
The Federal Reserve writes:
Experts expect these new investments, as well as future ones, to significantly boost US production of lithium-ion batteries. (Chart 1, below) US capacity is expected to grow more than fivefold from 2021 to 2026, according to data and estimates by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a data and market intelligence provider. By 2031, US capacity is expected to expand another 86%.
Of course, as Electrek covers on an almost daily basis, traditional automakers are now investing big in electric vehicles. Ford will spend $50 billion through 2026 to expand EV production. GM is investing $35 billion through 2025, and, together with LG, it’s using a $2.5 billion US Department of Energy (DOE) loan to build three US gigafactories (image above). Those three facilities are expected to create 6,000 well-paid construction jobs and 5,100 operations jobs once they are at full capacity, according to the DOE.
The gigafactories are mostly clustered in the Midwest and South and near Tesla facilities in California and Texas:
That’s because transporting large quantities of Li-ion batteries is expensive because they’re subject to strict safety regulations. That’s yet another reason that domestic manufacturing of EV batteries makes sense.
And there will be a lot of batteries. The Fed continues:
A gigafactory with 1 GWh capacity operating at full capacity could theoretically produce enough batteries each year to power 10,000 to 20,000 EVs.
The gigafactories are being sited in the same geographical locations as the automakers because it simply makes sense from a supply chain standpoint. So the geographical region that roughly runs between Michigan to Tennessee to Georgia to western New York is becoming known as the Battery Belt.