Deutsche Bank publishes targets for carbon footprint reduction

Read the news release.

Deutsche Bank today announced net zero aligned targets for 2030 and 2050 in four carbon-intensive sectors. The bank’s goal is to reduce the amount of financed emissions (Scope 3) significantly by 2030. The targets represent a core element of Deutsche Bank’s sustainability strategy and reflect the bank’s commitments as a founding member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA).

Deutsche Bank’s methodology, which is designed to be in line with emerging best practice, aims to support a progressive and orderly phase-out of fossil fuel usage while incentivizing the financing of lower carbon-intensity technologies and clients with credible transition plans.

Deutsche Bank’s targets cover sectors accounting for a significant proportion of financed emissions of its € 250 billion corporate loan book1 as well as key sources of global Scope 3 emissions of clients. Targets for each sector are as follows:

  • Oil & Gas (Upstream): 23% reduction in Scope 3 upstream financed emissions by 2030, and 90% reduction by 2050, in millions of tonnes of CO2
  • Power generation: 69% reduction in Scope 1 physical emission intensity by 2030 and 100% reduction by 2050, in kilogrammes of CO2 equivalent per megawatt hour
  • Automotive (light duty vehicles): 59% reduction in tailpipe emission intensity by 2030 and 100% reduction by 2050, in grammes of CO2 per vehicle kilometre
  • Steel: 33% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 physical emission intensity by 2030 and 90% reduction by 2050, in kilogrammes of CO2 equivalent per tonne

Simple process extracts valuable magnesium salt from seawater

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Magnesium has emerging sustainability-related applications, including in carbon capture, low-carbon cement, and potential next-generation batteries. These applications are bringing renewed attention to domestic magnesium production. Currently, magnesium is obtained in the United States through an energy-intensive process from salt lake brines, some of which are in danger due to droughts. The Department of Energy included magnesium on its recently released list of critical materials for domestic production.

A paper published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters shows how researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Washington (UW) have found a simple way to isolate a pure magnesium salt, a feedstock for magnesium metal, from seawater. Their new method flows two solutions side-by-side in a long stream. Called the laminar coflow method, the process takes advantage of the fact that the flowing solutions create a constantly reacting boundary. Fresh solutions flow by, never allowing the system to reach a balance.

Lithium and the Future of Electrification

DOE’s new Lithium StoryMap lays out the relationship between geothermal energy and lithium while exploring why the DOE is investing in technologies supporting lithium extraction from geothermal brines. Using an easily digestible format, visitors can scroll through the role of lithium in renewable energy today, how the critical material is currently obtained, and why the Salton Sea region of California may prove to be a key domestic source—with a little help from geothermal energy. As lithium demand continues to grow, geothermal energy may soon play a greater role in our lives and in the green economy.

Dumpster diver: How I find rare-earth metals in industrial landfill

Read the full story in Nature.

PhD student Gianluca Torta contributes to green recycling by extracting rare-earth metals from industrial landfill for reuse in electric motors.

Can the US go green without destroying sacred native lands?

Read the full story in Mother Jones.

An Apache group is fighting to stop a massive copper mine in Arizona.

How environmentally responsible is lithium brine mining? It depends on how old the water is

Read the full story from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

A groundbreaking new study comprehensively accounts for the hydrological impact of lithium mining. Since lithium is the key component of the lithium-ion batteries that are crucial for the transition away from fossil fuels and towards green energy, it is critical to fully understand how to responsibly obtain the precious element.

Using standards to promote the reuse of rare earth materials

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Rare earths are a key material used in hard disk drives used in servers. Mining of rare earths has significant impacts on water and soil quality, generates waste, and requires energy use. Reusing rare earths can help reduce the impacts of mining as well as increase the resiliency and security of the United States by ensuring access to these materials for new products. The U.S. government has indicated its interest in increasing recycling of rare earths and other critical minerals in EO 14017 (America’s Supply Chains). EPA initiated development of criteria to include in NSF/ANSI 426 addressing these issues. EPA conducted outreach to and collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Critical Materials Institute, Seagate (a major disk drive manufacturer), the Global Electronics Council (GEC), and other experts, encouraging them to participate in an NSF task group that would explore options and develop criteria for possible inclusion in NSF/ANSI 426.

Metal-lifespan analysis shows scale of waste

Read the full story in Nature.

Metals might be the foundation of the modern economy, but that doesn’t mean they stick around.

A study looking at the economic lifetimes of 61 commercially used metals finds that more than half have a lifespan of less than 10 years. The research, published on 19 May in Nature Sustainability, also shows that most of these metals end up being disposed of or lost in large quantities, rather than being recycled or reused.

How a few geothermal plants could solve America’s lithium supply crunch and boost the EV battery industry

A pilot plant near the Salton Sea in California pairs lithium extraction with geothermal energy production. Michael McKibben

by Bryant Jones, Boise State University and Michael McKibben, University of California, Riverside

Geothermal energy has long been the forgotten member of the clean energy family, overshadowed by relatively cheap solar and wind power, despite its proven potential. But that may soon change – for an unexpected reason.

Geothermal technologies are on the verge of unlocking vast quantities of lithium from naturally occurring hot brines beneath places like California’s Salton Sea, a two-hour drive from San Diego.

Lithium is essential for lithium-ion batteries, which power electric vehicles and energy storage. Demand for these batteries is quickly rising, but the U.S. is currently heavily reliant on lithium imports from other countries – most of the nation’s lithium supply comes from Argentina, Chile, Russia and China. The ability to recover critical minerals from geothermal brines in the U.S. could have important implications for energy and mineral security, as well as global supply chains, workforce transitions and geopolitics.

As a geologist who works with geothermal brines and an energy policy scholar, we believe this technology can bolster the nation’s critical minerals supply chain at a time when concerns about the supply chain’s security are rising.

A power plant surrounded by fields with a large lake behind it and mountains in the distance.
The Elmore geothermal plant near the Salton Sea began operating in 1989. Berkshire Hathaway Energy

Enough lithium to far exceed today’s US demand

Geothermal power plants use heat from the Earth to generate a constant supply of steam to run turbines that produce electricity. The plants operate by bringing up a complex saline solution located far underground, where it absorbs heat and is enriched with minerals such as lithium, manganese, zinc, potassium and boron.

Geothermal brines are the concentrated liquid left over after heat and steam are extracted at a geothermal plant. In the Salton Sea plants, these brines contain high concentrations – about 30% – of dissolved solids.

If test projects now underway prove that battery-grade lithium can be extracted from these brines cost effectively, 11 existing geothermal plants along the Salton Sea alone could have the potential to produce enough lithium metal to provide about 10 times the current U.S. demand.

How lithium is extracted during geothermal energy production. Courtesy of Controlled Thermal Resources.

Three geothermal operators at the Salton Sea geothermal field are in various stages of designing, constructing and testing pilot plants for direct lithium extraction from the hot brines.

At full production capacity, the 11 existing power plants near the Salton Sea, which currently generate about 432 megawatts of electricity, could also produce about 20,000 metric tons of lithium metal per year. The annual market value of this metal would be over $5 billion at current prices.

Satellite image of the Salton Sea showing a wide valley
The Salton Trough, seen from a satellite with the Salton Sea in the middle, is a rift valley that extends from east of Los Angeles, in the upper left, to the Gulf of California, visible at the bottom right. The San Andreas fault system crosses here, where two tectonic plates meet. Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory

Geopolitical risks in the lithium supply chain

Existing lithium supply chains are rife with uncertainties that put mineral security in question for the United States.

Russia’s war in Ukraine and competition with China, as well as close ties between Russia and China, underscore the geopolitical implications of the mineral-intensive clean energy transformation.

China is currently the leader in lithium processing and actively procures lithium reserves from other major producers. Chinese state mining operators often own mines in other countries, which produce other vital clean energy minerals like cobalt and nickel.

There is currently one lithium production facility in the U.S. That facility, in Nevada, extracts saline liquid and concentrates the lithium by allowing the water to evaporate in large, shallow ponds. In contrast, the process for extracting lithium while producing geothermal energy returns the water and brines to the earth. Adding another domestic source of lithium could improve energy and mineral security for the United States and its allies.

By pairing with geothermal power production, lithium extraction reduces the need for excess water consumption.

A lack of policy support

Geothermal power today represents less than 0.5% of the utility-scale electricity generation in the U.S.

One reason it remains a stagnant energy technology in the U.S. is the lack of strong policy support. Preliminary findings from a research study being conducted by one of us indicate that part of the problem is rooted in disagreements among older and newer geothermal companies themselves, including how they talk about geothermal energy’s benefits with policymakers, investors, the media and the public.

Geothermal power has the ability to complement solar and wind energy as a baseload power source – it is constant, unlike sunshine and wind – and to provide energy and mineral security. It could also offer a professional bridge for oil, gas and coal employees to transition into the clean energy economy.

The industry could benefit from policies like risk mitigation funds to lessen drilling exploration costs, grant programs to demonstrate innovations, long-term power contracts or tax incentives.

Adding the production of critical metals like lithium, manganese and zinc from geothermal brines could provide geothermal electrical power operators a new competitive advantage and help get geothermal onto the policy agenda.

Geothermal energy gets a boost in California

Trends might be moving in the right direction for geothermal energy producers.

In February, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a new Preferred System Plan that encourages the state to develop 1,160 megawatts of new geothermal electricity. That’s on top of a 2021 decision to procure 1,000 megawatts from zero emissions, renewable, firm generating resources with an 80% capacity factor – which can only be met by geothermal technologies.

The California decisions were primarily meant to complement intermittent renewable energy, like solar and wind, and the retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. They suggest that the era of geothermal as the forgotten renewable energy may be ending.

Bryant Jones, Ph.D. Candidate of Energy Policy, Boise State University and Michael McKibben, Research Professor of Geology, University of California, Riverside

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Blockchain based circular system being developed to assess rare earth sustainability

Read the full story at Circular.

The project aims to help strengthen the transition to a circular economy through tracking and traceability of critical materials.