Can the World Make an Electric Car Battery Without China? – The New York Times

“It is one of the defining competitions of our age: The countries that can make batteries for electric cars will reap decades of economic and geopolitical advantages.

The only winner so far is China.

Despite billions in Western investment, China is so far ahead — mining rare minerals, training engineers and building huge factories — that the rest of the world may take decades to catch up.

Even by 2030, China will make more than twice as many batteries as every other country combined, according to estimates from Benchmark Minerals, a consulting group.

Here’s how China controls each step of lithium-ion battery production, from getting the raw materials out of the ground to making the cars, and why these advantages are likely to last.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT Comment:

Thank you Agnes Chang and Keith Bradsher for this amazing research and report. Don’t let the bastards get you down, my father liked to admonish his friends and family. My main thought to your critics, who think we are so smart to jump into the future, rather than dominate the present, is that famous engineers, like the famous leader of Intel Andrew Grove, have warned repeatedly, that if we off-shore manufacturing, we also lose the manufacturing engineers, who are the backbone of future engineering devolopment. We also off-shore the future. So Biden and his team are right, that we have to bring manufacturing back to the US, even if the greedy capitalists will have to pay more for labor and environmental protections. How would we ever face off in war against China, if we buy all of our technology and manufactured goods from them?

David blogs at

The Editorial Board | We Desperately Need a New Power Grid. Here’s How to Make It Happen. – The New York Times

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

To tap the potential of renewable energy, the United States needs to dramatically expand the electric grid between places with abundant wind and sunshine and places where people live and work. And it needs to happen fast. The government and the private sector are investing heavily in a historic shift to electric-powered vehicles, heating systems and factories, including hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending approved last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. But without new power lines, much of that electricity will continue to be generated by burning carbon. Unless the United States rapidly accelerates the construction of power lines, researchers at Princeton University estimate that 80 percent of the potential environmental benefits of electrification will be squandered.

The United States needs 47,300 gigawatt-miles of new power lines by 2035, which would expand the current grid by 57 percent, the Energy Department reported in February. A 2021 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine arrived at a similar figure. To hit that target, the United States needs to double the pace of power line construction.

Danish Wind Pioneer Keeps Battling Climate Change – The New York Times

Reporting from Give, Denmark

“The contemporary wind power industry, which has spawned hundreds of thousands of spinning rotors generating electricity without putting greenhouse gases into the air, was to a great extent born in a notoriously windy region of Denmark called Jutland.

It was here almost 50 years ago, after the 1973 oil embargo cut energy supplies to much of the West, that inventors and machinists began comparing notes about ways to harness the wind that sweeps across this flat expanse separating the North Sea from the islands that form the rest of Denmark. And while countless people have played a role in refining the machines that stud coastlines, plains and mountain ridges, perhaps no one has had more influence than a Jutlander named Henrik Stiesdal.

As a young man of 21, he built a rudimentary machine to generate electricity for his parents’ farm. He was later co-designer of an innovative three-bladed turbine that set the stage for what has become a multibillion-dollar global industry. His inventions have led to about a thousand patents, and Mr. Stiesdal is widely seen as a pioneer in this very Danish field.”

A New Hydropower Boom Uses Pumped Storage, Not Giant Dams – The New York Times

Is It a Lake, or a Battery? A New Kind of Hydropower Is Spreading Fast.

“For a century, hydroelectric power has been synonymous with gigantic dams — feats of engineering that provide renewable energy but displace communities and destroy ecosystems.

New research released Tuesday by Global Energy Monitor reveals a transformation underway in hydroelectric projects — using the same gravitational qualities of water, but typically without building large, traditional dams like the Hoover in the American West or Three Gorges in China. Instead, a technology called pumped storage is rapidly expanding.

These systems involve two reservoirs: one on top of a hill and another at the bottom. When electricity generated from nearby power plants exceeds demand, it’s used to pump water uphill, essentially filling the upper reservoir as a battery. Later, when electricity demand spikes, water is released to the lower reservoir through a turbine, generating power.

Pumped storage isn’t a new idea. But it is undergoing a renaissance in countries where wind and solar power are also growing, helping allay concerns about weather-related dips in renewable energy output.”

How New Yorkers’ Food Scraps Get ‘Digested’ to Provide Gas for Homes – The New York Times


“For 20 years, New York City officials have discussed developing a compost program, and for a decade they have experimented with small-scale versions.

Finally, last month, Mayor Eric Adams launched a citywide initiative to collect food scraps curbside, starting in Queens. Now, with the program scheduled to expand to the five boroughs by the end of next year, city officials will need to figure out what to do with it all.

Officials hope to transform a problem into an asset, creating useful products like fertilizer and energy. The goal is to keep the city’s roughly eight million pounds of daily residential food waste from rotting in landfills, which produces harmful greenhouse gases, and to save costs on hauling food garbage.”

Margaret Renkl | Long Live the Fireflies (and the Wildflowers and Mosquitoes, Too) – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — The day we moved into this house, 28 years ago next month, a thunderstorm knocked out the power late in the day. My husband was returning the rental van. Our 3-year-old was safely tucked into his old bed in his new room. As night began to fall in the silent house, I sat down on the sofa to cry.

At a routine appointment earlier in the day, I’d learned that the baby I was carrying had no heartbeat. There had been a heartbeat once, but there was no heartbeat now. All I could do was wait for my body — still puffy and tender, still so sensitive to the smell of any kind of food — to catch up. For 10 weeks I had been growing a new life. Suddenly I wasn’t growing anything at all. My body just didn’t know it yet.

Surrendering to tears after a day like that feels like a gift, but the real gift is what happened while I wept. As darkness gathered under the maple trees in our new yard, tiny lights began to wink on and off just above the ground. I got up from the sofa to look. Just beyond the picture window, there were hundreds of lights, thousands of lights, lifting up from the damp grass and rising into the black branches. Lightning bugs!”

How Electrifying Everything Became a Key Climate Solution – The New York Times

“How electrification became a major tool for fighting climate change.

The United States still gets most of its energy by setting millions of tiny fires everywhere. Cars, trucks, homes and factories all burn fossil fuels in countless engines, furnaces and boilers, creating pollution that heats the planet.

To tackle climate change, those machines will need to stop polluting. And the best way to do that, experts increasingly say, is to replace them with electric versions — cars, heating systems and factories that run on clean sources of electricity like wind, solar or nuclear power.

But electrifying almost everything is a formidable task.”

China Could Dominate Sodium Batteries, the Next Big Advance in Power – The New York Times

Reporting from Changsha, Ningde and Fuzhou in China


“In Changsha, deep in China’s interior, thousands of chemists, engineers and manufacturing workers are shaping the future of batteries.

The city’s Central South University churns out the graduates who are advancing the technology, much as Stanford University molded the careers of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who pioneered microchips. Across the Xiang River, vast factories mix minerals into the highly processed compounds that make rechargeable batteries possible.

These batteries, mostly made of lithium, have powered the rise of cellphones and other consumer electronics. They are transforming the auto industry and could soon start doing the same for solar panels and wind turbines crucial in the fight against climate change. China dominates their chemical refining and production.

Now China is positioning itself to command the next big innovation in rechargeable batteries: replacing lithium with sodium, a far cheaper and more abundant material.

Sodium, found all over the world as part of salt, sells for 1 to 3 percent of the price of lithium and is chemically very similar. Recent breakthroughs mean that sodium batteries can now be recharged daily for years, chipping away at a key advantage of lithium batteries. The energy capacity of sodium batteries has also increased.


A low-slung building in the background, with two cyclists, one on a scooter and one on a bicycle, passing by in the foreground.
Central South University in Changsha produces graduates who are helping China advance in sodium battery development. Credit…Keith Bradsher/The New York Times

And sodium batteries come with a big advantage: They keep almost all of their charge when temperatures fall far below freezing, something lithium batteries typically do not do.”

And, the US has 90% of the readily mineable sodium!

E.P.A. Lays Out Rules to Turbocharge Sales of Electric Cars and Trucks – Coral Davenport – The New York Times


“WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday will propose the nation’s most ambitious climate regulations to date, two plans designed to ensure two-thirds of new passenger cars and a quarter of new heavy trucks sold in the United States are all-electric by 2032.

If the two rules are enacted as proposed, they would put the world’s largest economy on track to slash its planet-warming emissions at the pace that scientists say is required of all nations in order to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change.

The new rules would require nothing short of a revolution in the U.S. auto industry. Last year, all-electric vehicles were just 5.8 percent of new car sales in the United States and fewer than 2 percent of new heavy trucks sold.

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Michael S. Regan, said in a statement.”

E.P.A Lab Helps Plan the Fastest Road to an EV Future – Coral Davenport – The New York Times

Coral Davenport spent a week in Michigan at a government laboratory in Ann Arbor and at the Ford manufacturing complex and the United Autoworkers Local 600, both in Dearborn.


“Inside a secretive government laboratory, behind a tall fence and armed guards, a team of engineers has been dissecting the innards of the newest all-electric vehicles with a singular goal: Rewrite tailpipe pollution rules to speed up the nation’s transition to electric cars.

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose ambitious greenhouse gas emission standards for cars that are so stringent, they’re designed to ensure that two-thirds of the new vehicles sold in the United States are all-electric by 2032, up from just 5.8 percent today. And the rules could put the nation on track to end sales of new gasoline-powered cars as soon as 2035.

Transportation is the largest source of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States and scientists say that slashing pollution from tailpipes — fast — is essential to averting the most catastrophic impacts of global warming.

But that would also require overcoming myriad technical and logistical challenges: electric vehicles are still too expensive for most consumers, in part because of snarled global supply chains for the materials to build them. The cars also need a national network of millions of easy-to-use fast-charging stations.”