The Salton Sea Could Produce the World’s Greenest Lithium, if New Extraction Technologies Work

About 40 miles north of the California-Mexico border lies the shrinking, landlocked lake known as the Salton Sea. Once the epicenter of a thriving resort community, water contamination and decades of drought have contributed to a collapse of the lake’s once vibrant ecosystem, and given rise to ghost towns.

But amidst this environmental disaster, the California Energy Commission estimates that there’s enough lithium here to meet all of the United States’ projected future demand, and 40% of the entire world’s demand.

Lithium Will Fuel the Clean Energy Boom. This Company May Have a Breakthrough

Gaze across the Salton Sea, a sparkling oasis in the California desert, and you’ll see white plumes of steam rising against the hazy Chocolate Mountains.

The steam comes from 11 geothermal power plants, nestled between the accidental lake and the verdant farm fields of the Imperial Valley. The area has been churning out climate-friendly geothermal energy since the 1980s, long before solar panels and wind turbines became cheap and abundant.