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Hell's Kitchen heats up with $1.4B deal

Metal Tech News - March 15, 2023

CTR signs MOU to purchase six geothermal power plants from Fuji Electric Corp.

With the signing of a contract for $1.4 billion of geothermal power facilities built by Fuji Electric Corp. of America, Controlled Thermal Resources takes one enormous step toward its goal of producing large quantities of low-carbon lithium for electric vehicles and electricity at its Hell's Kitchen project in the Salton Sea area of Southern California.

"Today marks the beginning of a clean energy evolution," said Controlled Thermal Resources CEO Rod Colwell. "Building these power facilities will support sustainable lithium production, satisfy our client's increasing lithium requirements, and encourage the battery supply chain industries to join us in California."

CTR's growing client list includes global automakers such as General Motors and Stellantis, along with Statevolt, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer that is building a 54-gigawatt-hour-per-year battery factory in the Salton Sea area where Hell's Kitchen is found.

Above and beyond offering a domestic supply of the lithium that is in high demand for the batteries powering the burgeoning EV revolution, auto and battery makers are also drawn to Hell's Kitchen for ESG reasons.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide produced at CTR's Salton Sea facility will be extracted from geothermal brines that will also be used to generate zero-carbon electricity. Some of this clean energy will be used to produce the lithium, and the excess will be fed into the Southern California power grid.

So, the Hell's Kitchen lithium that goes into an EV battery will have zero carbon dioxide emissions associated with its production.

From these lithium-rich geothermal waters, CTR plans to initially produce 150,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide and 330 megawatts of zero-carbon electricity per year.

"150,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium can be used to build around 2.5 million EV batteries for standard-sized passenger cars," said Colwell. "This could save up to 1 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce vehicle tailpipe emissions by 11.5 million metric tons yearly while decarbonizing lithium production by another 2 million metric tons.

Big deal for SoCal

An important facet of CTR's vision is the power plants that will transform the hot waters into low-carbon electricity that will power the company's lithium production facilities, as well as homes and businesses in Southern California.

That is why CTR has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Fuji Electric for the delivery of six 55 MW geothermal power facilities to be delivered in stages as CTR builds out capacity at Hell's Kitchen over the first five years of development.

"Fuji Electric's experience in delivering essential equipment and construction services for geothermal operations is without peer," said Colwell.

Since its first geothermal turbine delivery in Japan in 1960, Fuji Electric has expanded its reach to five continents and established itself as the world's leading manufacturer of geothermal power generation equipment. The Hell's Kitchen projects will utilize steam turbine generators and transformers manufactured by the Japanese company.

"Fuji Electric has provided value and innovation in the geothermal market for many decades. These projects with CTR will take Fuji into an exciting new phase of renewable power generation in California," said Fuji Electric Corp. of America President and CEO Muneo Sato.

The signing of the $1.4 billion contract to secure the geothermal power units that are key to producing climate-friendly lithium and electricity in Southern California drew top dignitaries from Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration.

"Today's announcement further solidifies California's position as a global climate and economic leader and is a huge step towards a clean energy future and global decarbonization," said California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis. "CTR's power facilities and the resulting lithium production will help meet consumer demand for EV batteries while reducing demand for gasoline and resulting carbon emissions powering a new era of clean energy while creating good-paying green jobs in California."

Toward these altruistic goals, CTR anticipates that it will begin producing geothermal power and 25,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year, with the first stage of construction slated for completion by the end of next year.

At total production capacity, CTR envisions Hell's Kitchen delivering 1.1 gigawatts of low-carbon power and more than 300,000 metric tons of clean lithium products annually.

CORRECTION: This article was updated to correctly state that Controlled Thermal Resources CTR plans to initially produce 330 megawatts of zero-carbon electricity per year.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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