Tuesday, January 17, 2017

USA, California: Progress for 250 MW Geothermal Power Plant - Lithium Mining Facility

Australian firm plans nation's largest geothermal plant in Imperial Valley (Los Angeles Times)

In California’s southeastern desert, where an abundance of clean energy boils just beneath the surface, two start-up firms aim to build the nation’s largest geothermal power plant and mining operation.

Controlled Thermal Resources and Alger Alternative Energy, founded by Simbol's former vice president of businesses development, Tracy Sizemore, plan to tap the Imperial Valley’s geothermal resources to bring a 250 MW power plant online as early as 2020 that would be able to generate nearly six times the electricity as similar facilities in the area. In addition, the mining operation would begin extracting lithium carbonate — used for battery production — as well as manganese, zinc and other minerals in 2019.

The two companies say they have resolved the economic challenges by planning bigger operations and designing processes to minimize the adverse effect of the salt.

“We’re taking advantages of economies of scale” to produce power cheaply enough to lure utilities and other buyers, said James Turner, business development manager for Controlled Thermal Resources, which is building the power plant. “We’ve chosen to base our financial modeling with no government subsidies at all.”

In addition, CTR will receive royalties from Alger Alternative Energy’s sale of the minerals it extracts from the operation, which will bolster the power plant operation’s bottom line. One of the primary minerals is the resource used in making lithium-ion batteries, which are becoming increasingly popular in energy storage for cars, homes and utility power plants.

Alger Alternative estimates there are 100 million metric tons of recoverable lithium around the Salton Sea. Experts estimate that lithium-ion battery demand could reach 300,000 metric tons a year by 2020, so the company sees a growing market for the product.

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