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Ascend Elements | One-of-a-kind facility in Hopkinsville

IT’S A GOAL SO AMBITIOUS, it’s difficult to comprehend all the factors that will determine its success.

By 2030, the Biden administration wants 50% of all new car sales in the United States to be electric, fuel cell or hybrid electric vehicles. As of today, just seven years before that target date, EVs make up about 6% of U.S. car sales.

“We’re in the middle of a global energy transformation,” says Mike O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. The company is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a Hopkinsville facility, served by Pennyrile Electric, to help tackle one of the major challenges of EV production: sourcing materials for EV batteries. 

The U.S. is heavily dependent on imports for scarce battery materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel. Ascend Elements recycles used lithium-ion batteries and battery manufacturing scrap, converting those materials into new, sustainably engineered battery materials that can go right back into new EV batteries. 

“We’re building something in Kentucky that doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States—a domestic source of sustainable lithium-ion cathode precursor material for EV batteries,” O’Kronley says. “Our future energy independence and national security depend on it.”

The new facility in Hopkinsville will produce sustainable, active battery material for approximately 250,000 EVs per year. 

“We looked at more than 50 locations for this facility and the Hopkinsville site was the only one that met all our requirements,” O’Kronley says. “The site offers easy access to transportation, clean renewable power and a diverse workforce. Proximity to electric vehicle manufacturers and lithium-ion battery factories in the southeast United States was another key requirement.”

Pennyrile Electric CEO Alan Gates says the decision by Ascend Elements to locate in Hopkinsville’s Commerce Park II highlights the area’s healthy economic environment and the strength of TVA power for Pennyrile members.

“Ascend calls this 450,000-square-foot facility Apex 1,” Gates says, “and this project is truly the tops, the single largest investment in western Kentucky.”

Since June 2020, nearly $10 billion in EV-related investments and 8,900 full-time jobs have been announced in Kentucky. The U.S. Department of Energy identifies Kentucky, Michigan and Georgia as the top three states for electric vehicle battery manufacturing.

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