The United States Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office (LPO) has made, or committed to, almost $15 billion in loans for under its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program in the past year. These technologies include the manufacturing of eligible vehicles and qualifying components.
The office’s recently announced loans in the ATVM sector include the following:
July 2022: a $102.1 million loan to Syrah Technologies LLC to expand its Syrah Vidalia Facility—a processing facility that produces graphite-based active anode material , a critical material used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs)
December 2022: a $2.5 billion LPO loan to Ultium Cells, the joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution, to manufacture battery cells for electric vehicles in the United States
February 2023: a $375 million conditional commitment to Li-Cycle to fund the construction and development of a commercial-scale resource recovery facility in Rochester, New York
May 2023: a $362 million conditional commitment to CelLink Corporation (CelLink) to help finance the construction of a domestic manufacturing facility to develop lighter and more efficient flexible circuit wiring harnesses for automotive and other industries
Mission: The mission of the LPO is to "build a bridge to bankability." While significant venture capital has been available for decarbonization companies, these companies often need to build massive projects to scale up their production and lack access to debt capital, traditionally due to technology or demand risk. The LPO fills this gap in commercial deployment for innovative and high-impact energy and transportation technologies by providing access to needed loans when private lenders cannot, or will not, give their support until a given technology has reached full commercial market acceptance.
Why it matters: America has hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators that have proven out carbon-reducing technologies that could qualify for a loan to accelerate deployment to meet climate goal targets. To combat the climate crisis, the Biden Administration has set targets for a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net zero emissions economy by 2050. Central components of meeting those targets are advances in climate-friendly transportation.
Transportation is not limited to automobiles: ATVM provides direct loans for re-equipping, expanding or establishing manufacturing facilities and engineering integration in the U.S. that produce fuel-efficient advanced technology vehicles, qualifying components and/or refueling infrastructure. Advanced technology vehicles include the following:
- light-, medium-, and heavy-duty cars and trucks
- rail vehicles
- maritime vessels (including offshore wind vessels)
- hyperloop projects
What are the steps to see if you qualify for an LPO loan?
- Have a proven technology ready to be deployed at scale, meaning the underlying manufactured innovation or deployment service is at a technical readiness level of TRL8 or above. NASA originally developed the TRL scale in the 1970s to help standardize when certain technologies were mature enough to surpass both development and demonstration milestones.
- Contact the LPO for a complimentary pre-application consultation, recommended with sector specialists to discuss further and scope the project. This no-fee, no-commitment, pre-application consultation begins a dialogue directly with LPO staff to learn more about the project and helps ensure that applicants fully understand DOE's requirements and processes. You can request a pre-application consultation using an online form at LPO's website: https://www.energy.gov/lpo.
Note: Finalizing a loan can take anywhere from 8 months to nearly two years, pending the loan type, applicant readiness and the rigor of analysis performed by the LPO to mitigate the previously mentioned risk. However, over the past two years, LPO has built a team of dozens of professionals from across most energy and transportation sectors to work closely with potential borrowers to expedite the process.
Final note: Advanced manufacturing and transportation have been part of the backbone of America's economy. From Henry Ford and the first assembly line to post WWII and the industrial revolution to landing a man on the moon, the United States has thrived because we seized the moment with American workers driving the U.S. -- and global -- economy. We were known for building things bigger and better.
We are in the midst of a new renaissance in the United States. America is meeting the carbon and climate challenge and creating a new economy with new technologies. We want to learn about your technology and determine if we can make it take off together.
America's ingenuity has always been government-enabled but private-sector-led.
Jigar Shah is the director of the Loan Programs Office at the U.S. Department of Energy.