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:

Comité Civico del Valle (CCV) recently filed a lawsuit under CEQA that raises issues and questions about adverse environmental impacts and insufficient mitigation measures of the Hell’s Kitchen project sponsored by Controlled Thermal Resources. CEERT has discussed with CCV staff and consultants the failure by the applicant and Imperial County to adequately respond to the issues and suggestions CCV has raised. We plan to participate in a constructive dialogue between CCV and other geothermal/lithium developers, including Berkshire Hathaway Renewables, to try to achieve consensus on best practices for mitigating adverse impacts of geothermal development and lithium recovery.