Why U.S. Investment In Domestic Critical Mineral Development Is Important – And How One Company Could Be Key To The Clean Energy Transition

The federal U.S. government has been making significant pushes toward clean energy and electric vehicles, with President Biden setting ambitious goals for electrification. The Biden administration has announced several initiatives to support the adoption of electric vehicles, including the Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan, which aims to deploy 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations nationwide by 2030. Additionally, the administration has proposed a $174 billion investment in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure over 10 years as part of the American Jobs Plan. 

However, despite recent legislation aimed at increasing the electrification of American cars, trucks and specialty vehicles, the US still lags behind China. China currently dominates battery production, with 93 "gigafactories" that manufacture lithium-ion battery cells, compared to only four in the United States. In 2021, China produced approximately 79% of all lithium-ion batteries that entered the global market. This gap is a result of several factors, including China's early investment in the lithium-ion battery industry, government support and access to raw materials. China's investment in research and development has also led to advancements in battery technology, positioning the country as a leader in the industry. In contrast, the United States has been slow to invest in the industry, with limited government support and a lack of domestic manufacturing. 

However, Nevada-based company Dragonfly Energy Corp. DFLI is helping change this reality. Dragonfly Energy is a leading manufacturer of deep-cycle lithium-ion batteries that are disrupting the energy storage industry. The company's innovative battery products are sold directly to consumers under the Battle Born Batteries brand and to original equipment manufacturers like Keystone RV and Airstream.

The company designs and assembles its batteries in the United States and is driving research and development initiatives for its non-toxic deep-cycle Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. Their batteries are replacing lead-acid batteries across a wide range of markets, including RVs, marine vessels, residential off-grid and backup storage and industrial applications. Dragonfly Energy is also working on proprietary and patented non-flammable solid-state battery cell technology, which will enable a more sustainable and reliable smart grid.

Despite a challenging economic environment, in Q1 2023 the company reported net sales of $18.8 million, a 2.7% increase from the previous year. Dragonfly Energy was able to deliver a net income of $4.9 million, a significant improvement compared to a net loss of $2.3 million in Q1 2022. Overall, Dragonfly Energy's financial results demonstrate the company's ability to navigate challenging economic conditions and continue to lead the way in the lithium-ion and clean energy space.

One of the challenges US manufacturers have experienced is access to the raw materials needed to produce lithium batteries. The recent agreement between Dragonfly Energy and Ioneer Ltd. IONR is a significant step towards the company’s goal of establishing a vertically integrated lithium battery cycle – from mining to production to recycling – in the United States. This partnership highlights the company's commitment to domestic production and development of critical minerals, which is essential for accelerating the domestic electrification pipeline for lithium battery components. 

Dragonfly Energy seems poised to become a strong lithium-ion battery producer in the US, supporting the growth of the clean energy industry and helping close the manufacturing gap between China and the US. The partnership with Ioneer also highlights the importance of collaborations between companies and government entities, as emphasized by Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo.

“This agreement between Dragonfly Energy and Ioneer, and hopefully more like it in the future, are vital to our economy as we work to develop this new industry, secure Nevada's energy independence and close the lithium loop," said Lombardo. "In the future, we hope to see more Nevada companies creating innovative partnerships like this one, which will help strengthen our economy and demonstrate how Nevada is the lithium capital of North America."

In strengthening and diversifying the state's economy. Dragonfly Energy's focus on domestic production and development of critical minerals could position the company to be a key player in the US lithium-ion battery industry and support the country's transition to a clean energy economy.

Featured photo courtesy of Dragonfly Energy.

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