California’s largest lake is also a huge environmental disaster. The Salton Sea was created by accident over 100 years ago. With no natural water inlets or outlets, its salinity has slowly increased to the point where few creatures can survive its briny deeps, making a once-popular tourist destination a modern day ghost town. But the environmental disaster known as the Salton Sea could be a deciding factor in California’s plan to win the bid for the Tesla Gigafactory, reports USA Today.
A company called Simbol Materials has developed a process for extracting the much-needed lithium from Salton Sea using geothermal brine. The company is currently seeking funding to increase output of its operations, and it could end up playing a major role in choice of where to locate the Gigafactory.
Though once considered to be out of the running, California has made a strong play for the battery factory by offering to streamline the permit process and offering huge financial incentives. Tesla is said to be seeking up to $500 million towards the Gigafactory, which would eventually employ as many as 6,500 people. But CEO Elon Musk has also noted that proximity to necessary raw materials, including lithium, could also be important when it comes time to make the final decision. Such local resources could end up making Tesla vehicles more American than even the Ford F-150.
The Gigafactory frontrunner right now is just outside of Reno, Nevada, where Tesla has already broken ground on a potential site. Musk didn’t mince words when he said that they are still considering other states though, and California has already been pretty generous to the electric automaker. Placing the Gigafactory in an economically-devastated area like the Salton Sea, with abundant access to necessary lithium for its batteries, could give Tesla a massively positive and popular PR campaign to run with.
Having visited the Salton Sea area in 2010, I can tell you that the place is in desperate need to any sort of economy, and Tesla could do a whole lotta good down there.