Geothermal Power: Dual Market for Water Treatment and Lithium Extraction Technology

California’s large geothermal fields host more than 40 geothermal power plants. The Salton Sea region is considered the most abundant geothermal resource in the nation, reportedly containing significant amounts of lithium, manganese and zinc—essential materials for the battery and energy storage markets. In 2016, California and the U.S. Department of the Interior signed an agreement to work together on managing and developing the Salton Sea’s resources.

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Interview with KPBS Radio - The Forgotten Renewable: Geothermal Energy Production Heats Up

Interview with KPBS Radio - Listen Here

Three and a half hours east of Los Angeles lies the Salton Sea, a manmade oasis in the heart of the Mojave Desert. It was created in 1905, when a canal broke and the Colorado River flooded the desert for more than a year. The Sea became a tourist hotspot in the 1950's, perfect for swimming, boating, and kayaking. But now, people are coming here looking for something else.

Jim Turner is the chief operating officer of Controlled Thermal Resources, an energy company from Australia. On a hill overlooking the Salton Sea, he points out a patch of land that will someday house his company's first power plant, named Hell's Kitchen.

"We're standing on top of what is probably the most robust geothermal resource in the United States," he explains.

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Trump raises the thermostat for geothermal energy

The Trump administration is looking to carve out a place for geothermal energy in its energy abundance agenda, starting several initiatives to help the undervalued renewable resource expand beyond the volcanic Pacific region.

Geothermal power plants are one of the few renewable energy resources, outside of hydroelectric dams, that can provide a source of 24-hour-a-day electricity without interruption, known as baseload power. Arguably, geothermal is becoming more reliable than hydropower, given water scarcity issues in the West.

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Trump Holds Geothermal Card Up His Sleeve When Pitching “Energy Dominance”

President Trump’s idea of US energy dominance is exclusive to fossil fuels. Nevertheless, his central premise — “innovation and new technology have opened trillions of dollars of energy for development” — can be equally applied to the vast wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal resources at the country’s disposal.

It looks like the Trump administration is gearing up for a new round of R&D that could propel the US geothermal industry out of the doldrums.

On December 13, the office announced the first steps toward an R&D program seeking ways to lower the cost of drilling.

Drilling accounts for about half the cost of geothermal development, so focusing on that angle should produce high impact results.

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Valley Geothermal project takes top award

Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) has won the Project of the Year Award for Sustainability for its Hell’s Kitchen geothermal project in the Salton Sea at the 9th North American Infrastructure Leadership Forum, in San Francisco on October 29, 2017, CTR announced Monday.

CTR is one of a team of geothermal project developers who aim to construct and operate the largest geothermal power plant in the Imperial Valley. Another team is planning the engineering, construction, and operation of a companion plant that will use a proprietary carbon-dioxide-negative technology to recover minerals such as lithium from the geo­thermal plant’s brine before it is re-injected into the reservoir. Operating together, the plants will compose a CO2-negative, renewable-energy power producer.

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DOE proposes cost recovery for baseload generators in new FERC rule

Released at the end of August, the Department of Energy's grid study concluded that the reliability of the bulk power system is strong today, but changes in the resource mix could present challenges in the future. The report urged federal regulators to begin examining how to better compensate generators for the services they provide for reliability and resilience if it finds reliability is threatened. 

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The green energy revolution is now unstoppable

It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to think of a world powered by renewable energy. It is fast becoming necessary - to cut air pollution and combat climate change.

California is a really exciting example of a state trying to change the status quo. It was wonderful to read about how Senate President Kevin de León has put forward a plan to produce 100 per cent renewable energy within California’s electricity grid by 2045.

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Gov Jerry Brown signs bill to extend California's Climate Change cap-and-trade program

Lawmakers and environmentalists gathered on Treasure Island to witness Governor Jerry Brown sign Assembly Bill 398 authored by California State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). AB 398 would extend California’s “Cap and Trade” program to 2030. Previously the program was set to expire in 2020.

Cap and trade puts a limit on carbon emissions and requires polluters to obtain permits to release greenhouse gases. Some permits, known as allowances, are given away while others are auctioned, generating billions of dollars in revenue for the state. The money is a key funding source for a planned high-speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, one of Brown's priorities.

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California votes to extend cap and trade

California lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to extend the state's cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases through 2030.

The bipartisan, supermajority votes in both the state Assembly and Senate late Monday gave a major victory to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has been pushing hard to extend the landmark climate change program in the world’s sixth largest economy.

It also serves as a significant example of California’s willingness to fight climate change while the Trump administration and congressional Republicans work to dismantle Obama-era climate policies.

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Coal got knocked out in Calif. Now, gas is on the ropes

"In general, it's going to be renewables in, gas out, so you've got that sort of long, slow good-night of lots of gas," said Jim Caldwell, a senior technical consultant with the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a Sacramento think tank that has been advocating for regulators to reconsider their grid policies to better account for renewables and climate change. 

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In the Future, Your iPad Could Come from Geothermal: 3 Facts about Critical Materials

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to invest in clean energy technologies to strengthen our domestic energy independence. To improve technologies from the onset, the Geothermal Technologies Office is focusing on rare earths and critical materials recovery—the building blocks in many clean energy applications.

Critical materials—lithium, manganese and some rare-earth elements—play a vital role in producing many clean energy technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy-saving lighting and energy storage. For example, rare-earth elements are used in devices such as iPads, smartphones and flat-screen televisions; indium is present in the liquid crystal displays of many of the same devices. Manganese is essential for hardening iron into steel and reducing corrosion in aluminum cans. Many clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, electric vehicles, and thin-film solar cells require various critical materials to function.

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Investments in Renewable Energy to Top US$7 Trillion by 2040

Investments in Renewable Energy to Top US$7 Trillion by 2040

Rather than focusing on political commitments, the New Energy Outlook models how the changing costs of renewable and conventional energy may change the future energy landscape and resulting risks and opportunities. The 2017 edition finds that thanks to faster than expected declines in the cost of wind and solar power, renewable energy will account for majority of the expected US$10.2 trillion in energy investments up to 2040.

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