- Demand for large grid-connected lithium batteries climbing
- Demand from electric vehicle industry also rising
- Company expanding exploration and production activities to meet demand
Utilities all around the world are plugging into lithium batteries, a trend that is establishing a new paradigm in the energy industry. Long employed at the micro level to power electrical and electronic devices, lithium batteries are now being employed at the macro level to power entire cities. Power utilities, in an effort to increase reliability of supply, are hooking up giant lithium battery installations to their grids. Already pressured by requirements from the electric vehicle (EV) industry, demand for lithium is set to increase. That development is spurring Standard Lithium Ltd. (TSX.V: SLL) (FRA: S5L) (OTCQX: STLHF) to intensify its exploration efforts, as it recently added 6,000 more acres to its Bristol Dry Lake Lithium Project. The company is aiming to become a significant low-cost, domestic producer of battery-grade lithium materials.
In February 2017, the largest grid-tied lithium-ion battery system in the U.S. was completed by the Southern California utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). This massive energy storage facility was constructed after state officials mandated power companies to add lithium-ion battery storage to their grids, according to Ars Technica (http://dtn.fm/Jkem1). The directive was prompted by a massive methane leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility operated by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). The SDG&E grid-tied lithium-ion storage facility has a 30MW battery system capable of storing 120MWH of energy, enough to serve 20,000 customers for four hours.
Despite its recent commissioning, the scale of the SDG&E facility has already been exceeded. In November 2017, the South Australian government announced the completion of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery just outside the city of Jamestown (http://dtn.fm/FcBj0). The battery behemoth can store 129 MWH of energy and deliver 100MW of power. It was built by Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and is meant to reduce the incidence of recent power outages, one of which affected an area the size of France. Although often confused, power and energy and their units of measurement are distinctly different. Energy (megawatt-hours) can be compared to a reservoir of water that is part of a hydro-electric facility. The larger the size of the dam, the more potential energy the facility possesses. However, power (megawatts), the rate at which that potential energy is converted to usable form, is equally important.
As these developments continue, Standard Lithium is expanding its operations in California. The company recently announced (http://dtn.fm/Fl4gh) its entry into a memorandum of understanding with TETRA Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TTI) aimed at securing access to additional operating and permitted land of approximately 12,100 acres in Bristol Dry Lake and up to 11,840 acres in the adjacent Cadiz Dry Lake of California’s Mojave Desert. The Bristol Dry Lake is a flat salt dry lake, or playa, that occupies approximately 155 sq. km in a 2,000 sq. km arid drainage basin. The actual project area covers over 25,000 acres of the playa. Standard Lithium recently signed a mineral lease agreement with National Chloride Corporation of America, which has, in the past, mined the near-surface brines to produce concentrated chloride products for various industrial applications. As a result, a lot of the required infrastructure is already in place.
The property, situated approximately 200 km from Las Vegas and 330 km east of the port of Los Angeles, has electric power and water and is crossed in the northwest by a major paved road (Route 66). There is also a Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad adjacent to the site with a purpose-built siding and loading spur-line.
However, extensive as they are, its California assets are not all that Standard Lithium has to offer. The company is also exploring for lithium in the Smackover Formation, which extends through Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, and has produced billions of barrels of brines over the last 80 years from an extensive and extremely well-characterized aquifer.
As global demand for lithium continues to climb, Standard Lithium is ramping up its exploration and product activities. The Canada-based junior exploration company continues to acquire lithium rich properties in the U.S. It plans to unlock value from overlooked U.S. lithium assets by applying new technologies and processes.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.StandardLithium.com
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