Duke Energy is reportedly set to remove a system supplied by Chinese battery-making behemoth CATL from a US military base amid pressure from members of Congress that they pose a security risk.
The US utility will also phase out batteries supplied by CATL across its other projects in the US by 2027, the utility told Reuters in an article published on Friday.
The 11MW battery system on the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina had already been temporarily disconnected in December.
That followed US members of Congress writing to defence secretary Lloyd Austin arguing that the allegedly “CCP-funded and supported firm should have no role or presence on a US military installation.”
CATL, known as Contemporary Amperex Technology in full, is the world’s largest battery manufacturer and is also a leading supplier of batteries for electric vehicles in the US.
The US lawmakers also claimed that CATL has “striking similarities” to Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, whose equipment has been banned in the US over fears it is linked to the Chinese government.
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“In partnership with policymakers and the Department of the Navy, we have made the decision to decommission the CATL battery energy storage system at Camp Lejeune and replace it with a domestic or allied nation supplier,” Duke Energy said in a statement to Reuters.
“By 2027, we are voluntarily moving away from specifying CATL battery energy storage technologies,” said the utility, adding it supports a “robust American supply chain.”
The news comes days after the FBI said it had removed malware introduced by Chinese state-backed hackers in the US that sought to target public infrastructure including energy networks.
China dominates the battery manufacturing industry and a widespread move to completely avoid its systems in the US could slow down the country’s rollout of energy storage – crucial to supporting the deployment of variable wind and solar farms.
The administration of President Joe Biden has sought to boost clean tech manufacturing in the US through the landmark Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022, a move hailed as a “game changer” for the deployment of energy storage systems.
However, an industry group warned recently that while federal incentives have boosted energy storage manufacturing, domestic production will fall short of demand as early as 2025 “without strategic action”.