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By Shane Lasley
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Statevolt secures So-Cal gigafactory site

Metal Tech News - January 23, 2023


Last updated 1/24/2023 at 2:51pm

Aerial view of the proposed Statevolt lithium battery plant near the Salton Sea.


A rendering of the 54 GWh battery gigafactory Statevolt plans to build in the Lithium Valley region of Southern California.

Acquires land for EV battery factory in Lithium Valley.

After months of searching for the ideal locale for a gigafactory capable of producing enough lithium-ion batteries for 650,000 electric vehicles per year, Statevolt has found a 154-acre site that can plug into the low-carbon energy and lithium being produced in the Salton Sea area of Southern California.

"We have worked hard to find a suitable location to accommodate our vision and keep us near to our partners," said Lars Carlstrom, founder of Statevolt.

Controlled Thermal Resources Ltd. is one partner in particular that Statevolt wanted its gigafactory built close to.

Under a partnership forged between the two companies in 2022, CTR will deliver low-carbon lithium and geothermal power produced from the Salton Sea in California's Imperial Valley to the Statevolt battery plant.

These important ingredients for producing the environmentally responsible lithium batteries automakers are seeking will come from a closed-loop process being developed by CTR that directly extracts lithium from geothermal brines at Hell's Kitchen project near the Salton and uses the heat to generate the electricity that will power the extraction of lithium and the upgrade of that product to the lithium hydroxide used in EV batteries. The lithium-less brine will then be pumped back into the ground, and the excess zero-carbon electricity will be delivered to the power grid.

"We are delighted to see Statevolt secure land in Imperial County for the development of a significant battery manufacturing operation in the region," said Controlled Thermal Resources CEO Rod Colwell. "Statevolt's vision and commitment to source clean electricity and lithium from CTR to power their operations will set new sustainability benchmarks for industry and will provide an environmental leadership model for the U.S. lithium-ion battery supply chain."

Hyper-local business model

For Statevolt, building a lithium-ion battery factory next to one of the major commodity inputs is part of the "hyper-local business model" that the company is helping to pioneer.

In addition to benefiting from the ability to plug its gigafactory into geothermal power and sourcing lithium produced from and with that same zero-carbon electricity, having that lithium right next door almost completely eliminates the carbon footprint of transportation.

In 2020, it was estimated that lithium traveled roughly 31,000 miles, or more than one trip around the Earth, from mine to EV battery. While lithium extraction and processing supply chains are rapidly becoming more diverse and regionalized, any transport increases the carbon footprint.

Statevolt believes that Salton Sea provides the best mix of ingredients to build a battery factory in the U.S. that helps meet the climate goals of both American automakers and governments.

"Statevolt is developing a hyper-local business model that will ensure its batteries are sourced and manufactured in a way that will support the Biden Administration's ambition for clean growth and well-paid, high-quality jobs," said Carlstrom.

And, Statevolt's plans to build a roughly $4 billion battery gigafactory near the Salton Sea has garnered support from local groups that see substantial new economic opportunities for this region roughly 100 miles northwest of San Diego.

"Creating up to 2,500 full-time jobs, the Statevolt project and its significant investment will be a monumental boost and rebirth for our local economy," said Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp. Vice President Sean Wilcock.

This group is already working to ensure that local residents are prepared for the wide range of jobs that will need to be filled at this 54-gigawatt-hour-per-year battery factory.

"Working alongside Imperial Valley College and other regional institutions, curriculums will be designed and administered to upskill our local workforce seeking new opportunities and higher wages for underserved citizens," Wilcock added.

Salton lithium supply

Given that the transition to electric transportation is just getting underway and the Salton Sea hosts vast quantities of the lithium for the batteries powering the EV revolution, the economic opportunities being offered by Statevolt, CTR, and others are not expected to be a boom-and-bust cycle for Imperial Valley and its residents.

The California Energy Commission estimates that the Salton Sea area, which has been dubbed "Lithium Valley" due to its potential to be the economic hub that produces low-carbon lithium and geothermal power, hosts enough lithium to meet all of the U.S. needs for this critical battery metal.

And the reduced environmental footprint of directly extracting lithium from geothermal brines that, in turn, power the extraction and battery-making in California's Lithium Valley aligns with climate objectives at both state and federal levels.

Statevolt says the passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act has provided it "with significant impetus to accelerate its plans to develop its Gigafactory in Imperial Valley."

Mud pots formed from geothermal water rising to the surface near the Salton Sea.

Controlled Thermal Resources Ltd.

These mud pots near the Salton Sea are evidence of the enormous geothermal system that Controlled Thermal Resources plans to tap into to produce both low-carbon lithium and electricity.

The nearly $400 billion of clean energy investments included in the IRA is loaded with battery manufacturing incentives that are expected to enable Statevolt to accelerate its development plans and support ambitions to elevate the U.S. into a leading position when it comes lithium battery production.

"The Inflation Reduction Act has opened up new opportunities and incentives for strategic sectors like ours, helping the U.S. establish itself as the global leader in clean energy solutions," Carlstrom said.

Furthering the long-term viability of its proposed Salton Sea gigafactory, the Statevolt founder says the plant will be developed in a way that can adjust to anticipated changes in battery technologies that will improve EV range and lessen charging times.

"At the centre of our plans to develop the Statevolt Gigafactory is our commitment to building a technology agnostic facility able to accommodate future developments in cell technology and generation changes, providing us with greater flexibility over our project partners," Carlstrom added.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

With more than 15 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 907-726-1095


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