As the west, particularly the US, tries to wean away from its reliance on Chinese manufacturing, it finds that in certain areas there is no way out. One of them is electric batteries. CATL, the Chinese electric battery maker used for electric vehicles as well as power grids is not just the world’s largest but also a world leader in battery technology.

The article highlights pushback from US authorities on increasing reliance on Chinese batteries.

“In February, Duke Energy, a US energy company that serves more than 8 million customers, said it was phasing out the use of CATL batteries. Duke said it would replace the CATL products with technology from a “domestic or allied nation supplier”

The decision came after lawmakers had raised concerns about the use of CATL batteries at a Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina. Duke, which provides electrical infrastructure to the military base, disconnected the CATL batteries in December and now plans to decommission them entirely, as well as phase them out from civilian projects.

Ford has also come under fire for doing business with CATL. A deal between the two companies to build a factory in Michigan to produce low-cost lithium iron phosphate batteries for EVs using CATL technology has repeatedly been questioned by US lawmakers. Marco Rubio, the vice-chairperson of the Senate intelligence committee, said the plan would bring “America’s greatest geopolitical adversary into the heartland.” In November, Ford scaled down its plans for the plant, reducing its capacity by about 40%.

 Critics are worried that using CATL batteries may create a dependence on Chinese technology that could become a vulnerability in the event of souring relations between Washington and Beijing. There are also concerns that US tax subsidies for green technology could flow towards Chinese entities.”

But there seems to be little choice for the Americans – affordable green energy for now needs Chinese battery tech:

“Michael Dunne, the founder of Dunne Insights, an EV consultancy, says the US is “years behind when it comes to batteries, battery supply chains, critical minerals. This is where our cupboard is bare.”

Dunne says there is now a “sense of urgency” in the US to build up domestic battery capacity but that it would take between five and 10 years to catch up with China. That may not be fast – or cheap – enough to achieve Biden’s goal of two-thirds of new car sales being EVs by 2032.”

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