The purpose of this solicitation is to fund projects that develop and demonstrate technologies to reduce impacts from scaling and corrosion at geothermal power plants in California or advance processes to enhance the recovery of lithium and other valuable minerals from geothermal brine at the Salton Sea geothermal field.
As the state transitions to 100 percent clean electricity, geothermal energy can serve as an important complementary renewable resource that can also support grid reliability by supplying baseload or dispatchable power. California in-state generation of geothermal energy in 2019 was 10,943 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which represents more than 5 percent of the total in-state generation; however, only a small fraction of the geothermal resources in California with the potential to generate power have been developed. To maximize the potential for geothermal energy deployment in California, improvements to cost, technical risk, and operational performance are needed. Corrosion and scaling in geothermal infrastructure are major challenges for making geothermal energy cost effective and more reliable. This is especially the case at the Salton Sea geothermal field, which has a generation technical potential of 2,950 megawatts (MW) but has one of the most corrosive and high-salinity brines in the world. Geothermal operators face high operating costs for expensive materials such as titanium to resist corrosion and large amounts of hydrochloric acid to prevent scaling. Additionally, the permanent damage from corrosion and scaling results in frequent equipment replacement.
The Salton Sea geothermal field also contains high concentrations of valuable minerals in the brine that can greatly improve the economics of geothermal energy development. For example, this resource is estimated to be capable of producing more than 600,000 metric tons of lithium carbonite equivalent (LCE) per year – worth over $6 billion and sufficient to produce about 11.3 million electric vehicle batteries annually. Other valuable minerals in the brine include manganese and zinc, which could also support domestic battery production. However, high levels of other minerals in the brine interfere with the direct lithium extraction process. As noted by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California, there is an opportunity to reduce solid wastes in geothermal and lithium recovery operations. The current brine treatment processes result in leftover solid waste products (i.e., brine cake) containing silica, iron, and trace minerals, including lead and arsenic, that require landfill or costly hazardous waste disposal. Reduction of these solid waste products would result in lower operating costs while improving mineral recovery.
Each project must fall within one of the following project groups:
· Group 1: Preventing Scaling and Corrosion in Geothermal Facilities;
Group 2: Recovering Minerals and Decreasing Waste Products from Geothermal Brine; or
Group 3: Comprehensive Brine Management Concepts to Reduce Operating Costs and Improve Mineral Recovery.
- Other Legal Entity
- Public Agency
- Tribal Government
This solicitation is open to all public and private entities with the exception of local publicly owned electric utilities.
No local publicly owned electric utilities.
Matching Funding Requirement:
Match funding is required in the amount of at least 30% (Groups 1 and 2) and 10% (Group 3) of the requested CEC funds.
How to Apply
State agencies/departments recommend you read the full grant guidelines before applying.
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