Manchin Holds Hearing On Innovative Opportunities For Energy Storage

September 22, 2022

To watch a video of Chairman Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Chairman Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine opportunities and challenges in deploying innovative battery and non-battery technologies for energy storage. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, discussed the importance of the investments for energy storage in the Energy Act of 2020, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Chairman Manchin also highlighted the need to onshore the supply chains for critical minerals and other battery components to ensure the United States’ independence from foreign adversaries.

“Unlike many other energy technologies, energy storage can be provided by an increasingly diverse set of technologies… When it comes to storage, there has rightly been a focus on the supply chain, particularly for lithium ion batteries, that power electric vehicles and phones in our pockets and many other modern technologies. While we have benefited from the use of this important battery chemistry, the fact that China is responsible for 75% of global lithium ion battery production, including 60% of the world's cathode production and 80% of the world's anode production should give everyone pause. That is why I was proud to champion the Inflation Reduction Act which incentivizes the onshoring of entire battery supply chain from the production and processing of raw materials to the battery pack assembly and everything in between,” said Chairman Manchin.

During the hearing, Chairman Manchin questioned the witnesses about how the incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act will help to accelerate deployment of innovative storage technologies, and about the importance of passing comprehensive permitting reform to see the full economic and energy benefits of recent legislation directed at addressing American energy independence, energy security, and inflation.

Chairman Manchin asked, “The Inflation Reduction Act basically had a lot of incentives for production tax credit and sales, tax credits, things of that sort…Can you touch on those credits, and that if not for these credits, these processes would take decades versus years? Do we need to change the permitting process in United States of America to bring our energy to market quicker and more cost effective than what it is today?”

“We believe we can be at gigawatt scale in another five years,” said Ted Wiley, President and COO of Form Energy. “That’s going to shave 20 years off of the timeline…we’ve created certainty for a decade, [and] the tax credits are critically important to catalyzing investor capital and giving us certainty that we can do what we need to in the market, and they allow us to go to scale faster.”

Tim Hemstreet of PacifiCorp, in response to the question about permitting, added, “Licensing [pumped storage] projects today takes 7 to 10 years, so if we’re going to take that long to license a project and 4 years to construct a project, that’s a multi-decade process, and from my perspective, that will not be soon enough when projects of this sort are needed.”

Chairman Manchin continued, “Mr. Wiley, you have always played a major role in providing this country with energy it needs and what you're trying to do. We have the Sparkz zero cobalt battery manufacturing facility coming into Bridgeport, as you know, and that's going to change a lot… As we transition in this country from the energy that we must have to an energy we'd like to have, if those two can intersect, and some people can do both. That's a transition where you leave nobody behind… I noticed that you said that you're looking in [coal and steel] communities that have that opportunity and availability and have the experience, is that where you've been finding energy states that have been heavy lifters?”

“The infrastructure we need to do that is the same kind of infrastructure that has serviced things like steel plants and coal plants around the country,” said Mr. Wiley. “The workers that we need to take iron and transform it into a battery are the same kind of workers that have been building the infrastructure that made America for the last several decades. So we found that there’s a really strong overlap where the rail and the river flow in together, and the workers and the skillsets are already there in those energy communities.”

Senator King (I-ME), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also commented on the benefits of comprehensive permitting reform for innovative energy storage.

“Following up on Senator Murkowski’s point. We can't get there without permitting reform. It's as simple as that. And those who are interested, we all know that… we've got to understand that in order to get to a clean energy future, we have to rationalize and correct the deficiencies in the permitting, or we'll never get there…we're going to need to permit pumped storage projects, we're going to need to permit mining operations…and, Mr. Chairman, I hope we're going to really make some serious inroads into that. Set deadlines, meaningful deadlines, coordination of agency consideration and conclusions within a reasonable period of time otherwise, we'll never get there,” said Senator King.

The hearing featured witnesses from PacifiCorp, ClearPath and Form Energy. To read their testimony, click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.