Hochschild is chair of the California Vitality Fee and lives in Berkeley. Hueso is a state senator representing the fortieth District, together with Imperial County and the border area of San Diego County. He lives in Logan Heights. Paz is the chief director of Alianza Coachella Valley and chair of the Lithium Valley Fee. She lives in Thermal.
President Joe Biden’s pledge to spice up America’s clean-energy financial system is nice information for the planet and aligns nicely with California’s objective to prepared the ground to a one hundred pc clear power future. The Biden administration is working to place america to guide the world in manufacturing electrical autos whereas securing a home provide chain of the supplies these autos require.
Final yr, electrical autos grew to become California’s No. 1 export and our state is proud to be dwelling to 34 zero-emission vehicle related manufacturers. Nevertheless, one of the vital uncooked supplies that makes these autos potential — lithium — is at this time produced virtually solely abroad. This silvery white metallic ought to be understood because the oil of the clear power future. It’s in excessive demand worldwide as demand for lithium-ion batteries for electrical autos and power storage functions continues to surge.
Fortuitously, California possesses one of many world’s most vital reserves of lithium. In line with some trade estimates, our state has sufficient lithium to satisfy as much as one-third of at this time’s world lithium demand. Situated within the Imperial Valley, the enormous cache of lithium sits 1000’s of ft under the Salton Sea space in naturally heated groundwater tapped by native geothermal energy vegetation to provide clear electrical energy.
With lithium demand rising, builders in geothermal mineral restoration have made promising breakthroughs that can unlock this useful resource in an environmentally sound, closed-loop course of that’s the greenest approach to produce lithium on the earth.
EnergySource of San Diego has reported that it successfully removed lithium from geothermal water in trials at its Salton Sea energy plant and plans to begin constructing a facility to get better the metallic at industrial scale this yr. Final yr, the Oakland startup Lilac Options introduced that it secured $20 million from an funding group to advance its personal lithium restoration approach for industrial manufacturing within the area.
Due to Senate Bill 1074, which Ben authored and his fellow lawmakers in Sacramento accepted, and the state’s analysis and growth program, the California Vitality Fee was capable of help these and different improvements with millions in funding. One of many recipients, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Vitality, leveraged its grant to win nearly $15 million to construct a lithium extraction demonstration undertaking from the U.S. Division of Vitality.
Now automakers are lining as much as be a part of this chance via two agreements introduced this summer season by General Motors and Stellantis (maker of Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge/Ram) to safe lithium from the Salton Sea for electrical car manufacturing.
This yr the California Vitality Fee launched the Lithium Valley Commission to overview, examine and analyze alternatives and advantages for lithium restoration and use within the state. The 14 members of this fee signify a various array of pursuits, together with group organizations, environmental teams, tribal communities, trade, utilities, and state and native governments.
We’re conscious of the historical past that, far too typically, extractive industries have harmed slightly than benefited the communities by which they’re situated. Via an inclusive course of, we’re decided to strategy the imaginative and prescient for “Lithium Valley” in a manner that straight advantages the area.
The advantages from growing the total lithium ecosystem and provide chain in Imperial County are quite a few. Lithium restoration can create a further income stream for the Salton Sea’s geothermal trade, making it simpler for builders to finance building of recent geothermal vegetation. Berkshire Hathaway Vitality has estimated that the area’s 11 vegetation may doubtlessly produce greater than $1 billion value of lithium yearly — and create lots of of recent jobs in Imperial County.
Income from the mineral restoration may present much-needed help for the Imperial Irrigation District’s restoration of the Salton Sea’s dry lakebed, which exposes surrounding communities to dangerous fine-grained mud. As well as, the brand new infrastructure wanted to help the lithium ecosystem and provide chain would enhance the group’s entry to protected roads, higher transportation techniques and broadband.
Along with producing lithium, there may be additionally the chance to draw again lacking items of the clear power ecosystem, comparable to battery manufacturing. California has the nation’s largest electrical car and power storage markets and the biggest lithium reserve. Making certain that lithium-ion batteries are made right here, too, is crucial.
California has all of the substances for constructing a brand new, highly effective lithium financial system: the pure useful resource, the workforce, the innovation know-how, and the nation’s fastest-growing marketplace for electrical autos and clear power storage.
Silicon Valley outlined a lot of California’s financial system over the previous 30 years. Constructing on the dedication to local weather options and job creation from President Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lithium Valley can play a historic function in serving to enhance our efforts to attain a one hundred pc clear electrical energy future.