Geothermal Development and Lithium Recovery

Lithium can be recovered from the brine that geothermal power plants pump from deep in the earth. Pilot projects have demonstrated that this extractive method is a significantly more cost-effective and less environmentally damaging way to produce lithium, an essential element for auto and energy-storage batteries. Lithium extraction would greatly boost the economic prospects of geothermal energy plants by creating a substantial new revenue stream, and could stimulate a new generation of plants in the Known Geothermal Resource Area by Imperial Valley’s Salton Sea. CEERT has helped develop and execute a Knowledge Transfer Plan to advance the commercial viability of this technology, and is working on procurement strategies for new geothermal development to support the future expansion of the lithium industry.

Recent Developments:

V. John White was invited to be a member of Comite Civico del Valle’s (CCV’s) Expert Technical Advisory Committee, which is reviewing and preparing comments about Imperial County’s programmatic environmental impact report (EIR) on the expansion of geothermal energy and development of lithium recovery, and on the EIR for the Hell’s Kitchen geothermal drilling and lithium recovery project.

CEERT attended CCV’s annual Environmental Justice Conference and two community meetings sponsored by Imperial County, and participated in discussions on expanding community benefits and mitigating environmental impacts, including intensified use of increasingly scarce water supplies resulting from steady declines in how much is available from the Colorado River.

CEERT has also worked to ensure that the new legislation on Central Procurement of Long Lead-Time Resources authorized by AB 1373 (E. Garcia) does not adversely affect previously mandated procurement of geothermal and high-capacity resources by load-serving entities.