Lithium: The Race for North American EV Dominance But at What Cost?
Nicholas Albergo, P.E., Senior Advisor, GHD
From the perspective of a global energy shift, with the world’s car fleets transitioning to electric propulsion, the last ten years have proved to be the decade of the lithium-ion battery. Lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite are critical to battery performance, longevity, and energy density and are essential for the world's energy transition. But the production of these minerals is dominated by a handful of countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, many with track records of human rights and environmental abuses. Thus, there is a desire for the U.S. to shoulder more of the burden for the minerals it consumes. This has EV sector companies examining domestic mineral sourcing while simultaneously re-examining their stance on corporate governance, sustainability, and supply chain human rights concerns. We envision a collision due to recent EPA rules; the Biden Administration attempts to wean the U.S. from foreign dependence and electric vehicle (EV) industry concerns regarding minimizing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) costs of acquiring essential EV materials.
Nick Albergo is a professional engineer and the founder and CEO of HSA Engineers & Scientists a 400-person engineering consulting firm. He is a Senior Advisor to GHD Services, Inc, a world-wide engineering consulting firm, and serves on the engineering faculty at the University of South Florida. He also serves as an expert in complex litigation cases and a technical consultant to Government, industry, and other consulting firms. At its peak, HSA had grown to include more than 380 professionals. Nick wears many hats. He has spent decades working with industry stakeholders and governmental officials on hundreds of contamination assessment and remediation projects, responsible waste, and pollution management, and applying best management practices and technologies. He has been a pioneer in his field, including holding patents in bioremediation, Rules and Standards development, and authoring or co-authoring over 185 environmental and chemical engineering publications. Beyond his domestic efforts as a consultant to industry, he has worked abroad as an advisor to other foreign Governments, private sector corporations, and international lending institutions.