The rise in electric vehicles is amazing news for the health of our planet. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 10 million clean-fuel cars were sold worldwide in 2022, with the share of electric cars accounting for 14% of the market.
That’s a marked increase from the 4% share in 2020, and it’s estimated it will only continue to increase. When looking at current trends, the IEA says the number of electric cars on the road by 2030 will mean the need for dirty fuel will decrease by 5 million barrels a day.
But while the planet will benefit from a significant reduction in the pollution that causes global heating, market focus on producing more vehicles with zero tailpipe gases is also helping to reinvigorate communities in the Southern U.S.
According to CBS News, $90 billion of investments have been made in battery production in the past three years, and southern states, like Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, have received the lion’s share of that.
Joined by Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, these states make up what is being increasingly referred to as the “Battery Belt,” where battery manufacturing is thriving and reviving towns that were once on the decline.
CBS News pointed to the town of Commerce in Georgia, where the population of 7,700 is steadily growing and welcoming a number of new businesses to the area.
Meanwhile, recycling plants are opening, too, harvesting valuable materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel from old car batteries, as well as those from electronic products, to make new ones.
Li-Cycle is one of these companies. With a factory based in Arizona, the company is processing up to 18,000 tons of black mass — which is made up of the valuable metals from battery recycling — on an annual basis.
Ascend Elements has a battery recycling plant in Covington, Georgia, and will soon open a new unit in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to build battery components with recycled materials with help from a U.S. Department of Energy grant of $480 million — and will also open another facility in the same town to process the recycled materials.
Elsewhere, Redwood Materials has a facility in Nevada, and according to Canary Media, it has picked South Carolina as the home of its next recycling center, bringing $3.5 billion in investment.
It’s clear, then, that the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries is delivering several benefits, especially for those communities in the South.
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