Should You Invest in Home Power Storage Now? Or Wait Several Years

After Biden’s administration set new tariffs on EV and non-EV batteries, most experts did not pay much attention to this vital matter. 

We don’t mean you should start buying batteries like people did with toilet paper during the COVID. This article will give you sad facts with optimistic forecasts so you can make rational decisions for your good.

Lithium is the key component of the batteries used in the US consumer market. Phones, laptops, toys, EVs. It’s a long list of goods that need lithium for the batteries, including American military and security forces.

Where Comes the Lithium From?

The agenda of the World Economic Forum in 2023 stated this: the United States imports hundreds of millions of lithium-ion batteries each year. The statistics indicated that China accounted for most U.S. battery imports in 2022, with a total trade value of $9.3 billion. South Korea and Japan are popular sources, with batteries worth $1.3 and $1.0 billion imported to the U.S. in 2022.” The total import value of lithium-ion batteries has nearly tripled since 2020, reaching $13.9 billion in 2022.

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Most consumers use energy storage devices (from phones to EVs) with lithium, which is not mined and processed in America. Here is another sad data with citations from global research by The Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP):

  • Lithium mining is severely concentrated in a few countries: Australia, Chile, and China. These countries extract 90% of the lithium used to produce batteries.
  • Many lithium mines in American-allied countries are financed by Chinese investment, locking in existing and future capacity for Chinese companies. These investments have allowed China to further influence the supply chain despite lacking domestic resources. For example, Chinese companies have acquired lithium mining rights in Africa, Australia, and Latin America. Chinese company Tianqi Lithium owns a 26% share in the Greenbushes mine and an approximately 22% share in SQM, a leading lithium chemical producer in Chile. Chinese companies Ganfeng Lithium, CATL, and Huayou Cobalt have stakes in projects in Africa, Australia, and South America.
  • Currently, the only lithium production in the United States is from Albemarle’s Silver Peak brine facility in Nevada.

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Who Refines Lithium for the Batteries?

Next, you must know that before lithium becomes a part of the battery, it must be processed along with other chemicals. And here we go again

  • Approximately 65% of the world’s lithium processing capacity is concentrated in China, solidifying the country’s dominant role;
  • Chile and Argentina account for 29% and 5% of processing, respectively, focusing on in-country lithium conversion from brines to lithium carbonate.

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Here are all the figures mentioned above in dollars: the import value of Chinese non-EV-used lithium-ion batteries was US$2.3 billion in 2023, a 34% increase from 2022.

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All of the above means one simple fact: America does not produce enough much-needed energy storage devices. We depend on foreign non-ally countries, and billions of dollars go overseas instead of being spent here on wages and local profits. That is also a question of national energy security.

Is the US Government Doing Anything?

Yes. At the end of 2022, the US Department of Energy reported $2.8 billion in funding for the “projects will support new and expanded commercial-scale domestic facilities to process lithium, graphite and other battery materials, manufacture components, and demonstrate new approaches, including manufacturing components from recycled materials.” In other words, that is a federal budget spending on the research and development of domestic full-scale battery manufacturing. There are about 20 projects, like the relaunching of the lithium mines in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, and the construction of the new lithium processing plant (its volume will be enough for more than one mln. electric vehicles) in the same area. Or the construction of the battery minerals refinery in Mercer County, North Dakota, which will support the domestic cathode supply chain.

All these projects (and other federal incentives and plans) will be fulfilled and launched between 2026 and 2028. Starting in 2030, America will supply itself with enough batteries through its domestic mining-processing-producing chain. Ally countries and commonwealths like South Korea or the European Union can provide the shortage. 

What’s the Plan for the Residents?

At the same time, the good news will come in four years. The battery tariffs will come into effect in 2026. And yes, the prices in the US for energy storage equipment will go up before 2026 and, after that, until 2030. 

That price increase won’t affect you much when we talk about small-scale batteries for phones, notebooks, or other gadgets. At the same time, prices for utility power storage equipment will go up before the market is supplied with American-made batteries.

So, what is your plan? Here are a couple of scenarios for you.

  • If you have already installed the solar panels or have signed the contract and are waiting for the installation team, finish the project without interruption. But tell your solar installer to calculate the power storage that will fit your solar system. And get one!
  • If you plan to buy and install solar panels this year, we recommend increasing the initial cost of your solar project and installing power storage. Ask your solar panel installer which type of battery to install (for backup in case of outages or for energy independence). 
  • If you are just getting personal solar quotes and doing some research, ask the solar panel companies to recalculate with home batteries added. The solar panel installer should know better, and they will help you choose the proper power storage equipment.

Look at our choice of best solar installers at SolarPowerSystems, where we have a database of reliable solar pros. You can get solar quote without additional charges or fees. Just answer a few questions, and you will get a personal evaluation of your house’s solar project.

Consider this additional cost of power storage as an investment to save money in the long run. Here are some ideas on what to do with saved money. Hint: start earning from solar energy.

Andriy Ryzhyy
Andriy Ryzhyy

Andriy Ryzhyy is a Research Expert and Copywriter at Solar Power Systems. Andriy’s experience in digital marketing automation and renewable energy sources, passion for applying mathematical principles to real-life tasks, and devotion to developing eco-friendly energy resources—a commitment shared with the rest of the team—are crucial in shaping the company’s strategy for presenting accurate and user-friendly information on solar technology.

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