Recommendations for improved Lithium and geothermal permitting process in California

Areas of Very High, High, and Moderate Lithium Concentrations at the Salton Sea (source: California Energy Commission)
Alexander Richter 4 Oct 2019

In a document prepared for the California Energy Commission, Panorama Environmentals and Controlled Thermal Resources provide their recommendations on how-to improve the permitting process for lithium extraction from geothermal brine at the Salton Sea, California.

During the recent GRC Annual Meeting a fantastic session looked into Lithium extraction from geothermal brine and the efforts by companies in the sector in the U.S.

Not only did the company exploring ways for a valid business model present, but also a representative from California’s Energy Commission.

Now in seemingly a follow up, Panorama Environmental has published a memo on approaches to improve the permitting process for lithium extraction from geothermal brine at the Salton Sea. The full memo can be downloaded here.

The report was prepared in a collaboration by Susanne Heim, Principal at Panorama Environmental and Graeme Donaldson, Controlled Thermal Resources, General Manager to provide input to the California Energy Commission.

Their recommendations include:

  1. State funding for a study to support the US Army Corps of Engineers adjustment of the limits of the Salton Sea to reflect current circumstances. This would remove a regulatory hurdle for extraction of lithium from areas that were previously inundated by the Salton Sea
  2. Creating a centralized tracking system for lithium project permitting by various state regulatory agencies, requiring regular reporting from regulators on the status of the permit process, and providing training to regulators on the lithium extraction process.
  3. Encourage advanced procurement of geothermal power through the IRP and resource adequacy process to create  new market opportunities for lithium extraction from geothermal brine.

If these steps are taken, the resulting geothermal and lithium development at the Salton Sea present opportunities to:

  1. Generate geothermal power to address the State of California needs for baseload renewable energy to meet policy objectives for renewable energy integration and greenhouse gas reduction
  2. Achieve State objectives for creating a reliable domestic supply of lithium to power the electric vehicle market

For further details and documents related to Lithium extraction in California, check out this data repository by California’s Energy Commission.

Source: Panorama Environmental