The California Energy Commission (“CEC”) furthered its commitment to support geothermal renewable energy development and the state’s emerging lithium industry by awarding Controlled Thermal Resources’ (“CTR”) Hell’s Kitchen Geothermal LLC, two grants totalling $US 4.46 million.
The grants were funded through the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, the state’s premier public interest research initiative which drives clean energy innovation and entrepreneurship to help California meet its 100 percent clean electricity goals.
The grants include:
- $US 3 million for Improved Silica Removal for Enhanced Geothermal Plant Performance; a novel technology that has the potential to lower both capital and operating costs of brine management at geothermal plants.
- $US 1.46 million for CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Geothermal Lithium Extraction Pilot; the design of a pilot-scale process for pre-treatment of geothermal brine to prepare the brine for lithium extraction.
“The CEC’s commitment to support improvements in geothermal engineering and lithium recovery in California is a critical step in the right direction,” Rod Colwell, CTR’s Chief Executive Officer said today. “Taking action to invest in technologies that unlock these immense clean energy resources will encourage further private investment in sustainable projects. This is the kind of initiative and leadership we need to get clean energy projects off the ground and boost economic stimulus, improve air quality, strengthen environmental responsibility, propel electric vehicle growth, stabilize electricity grids, and most importantly, create new jobs.”
The state of California boasts some of the world’s most abundant geothermal resources with more than 40 geothermal power plants operating in the state, providing over 2,700 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. That capacity is set to grow more than 60% over the next ten years with a further 1,700MW new geothermal power slated for procurement by 2030.
“Geothermal is a clean and sustainable power source, and we are fortunate to have such vast resources in the state,” said CEC Vice Chair Janea A. Scott. “Nearly half of the known resources remain untapped mainly because of the high initial costs. EPIC funding can help address those barriers by finding technical solutions that reduce costs, increase productivity, and encourage future commercial investments in geothermal.”
Clean Energy and Critical Minerals – A Powerful Combination.
In California’s Imperial Valley, the Salton Sea Geothermal Field (SSGF) has a total inferred lithium resource of 15 million tonnes. According to a recent report entitled “Selective Recovery of Lithium from Geothermal Brines” from the CEC’s Energy Research and Development Division, it is estimated that the SSGF can produce more than 600,000 tons (545,000 metric tonnes) per year of lithium carbonate with a value of $US 7.2 billion based on the lithium carbonate price of $US 12,000 per ton.
As clean energy resources rapidly replace fossil fuels in the transportation, building, and energy sectors, global annual demand for lithium is expected to increase from 300,000 tonnes today, to over 2 million tonnes by 2030.
“California is at a remarkable turning point as the world pivots toward a clean energy future,” Colwell said. “With ongoing support, I have no doubt that California has the potential to reach its 100% clean energy goals by 2045 and become a world leader in the supply of clean, battery-grade lithium and other high-profile critical minerals.”
About Controlled Thermal Resources
Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) is a clean energy resource developer in the advanced stages of developing an integrated lithium extraction and chemical conversion facility and a geothermal power facility in Imperial Valley, California. Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power is a world-scale project that will set new environmental standards for the delivery of battery-grade lithium products and baseload, renewable power in a secure U.S. location.
The project is expected to deliver 17,350 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent products (LCE) per annum and 140MW of renewable geothermal power in 2023. It is estimated that Stage 1 of the project will generate 400 plant and construction jobs and a further 186 ongoing operational jobs. Further development over eight stages has the capacity to deliver 300,000 tonnes LCE per annum and 1,100MW of geothermal power, and would create approximately 2,000 jobs.
CTR will deploy Direct Lithium Extraction technology from Lilac Solutions; a company which recently received a $US20 million funding led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. In contrast to current mining methods, direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines is a closed-loop system that returns spent brine to its original source; utilizes 100% renewable power and steam for processing; takes hours, not months to produce high purity lithium products; has a very small physical footprint and a close-to-zero carbon footprint; is not weather dependent or water intensive; doesn’t require open pit mines, large evaporation ponds or off-shore processing, and will run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is leading the state to a 100 percent clean energy future. It has seven core responsibilities: developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, increasing energy efficiency, investing in energy innovation, advancing state energy policy, certifying thermal power plants, and preparing for energy emergencies.
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