Sustainable lithium made in Europe

How geothermal energy contributes to clean mobility

Lithium is a key product for e-mobility. The European Union is dependent on imports from lithium refineries in competitor countries. However, geothermal lithium can help Europe to create its first entirely domestic electro mobility value chain–from sustainable lithium extraction and processing, to battery manufacturing and e-vehicle assembly. Importantly, geothermal lithium is a secondary product to the main function of geothermal energy,which is to provide renewable heating, cooling and baseload electricity.

Vulcan Energy Zero Carbon Lithium project taps into the lithium-rich brine of the EU’s battery “mega factory” area in Southern Germany. From production wells tapping intogeothermal aquifers 2,000 meters deep, the project will produce de-risked lithium (in the form of lithium hydroxide) from the brine, without the need for any hard rock mining or evaporation pools (i. without local environmental impacts). The spent brine is reinjected into the reservoir to ensure the sustained production of the resource.

The pilot project has been launched in 2020 and will reach market maturity in 2023. The payback in this investment is expected to be five years. After this milestone, the total cost of the geothermal plant decreases every year geothermal lithium is sold.

The use of the geothermal energy of a combined geothermal and lithium extraction project will decarbonize the lithium production. As not all the energy is used for lithium extraction the geothermal power plant will also play a role in changing the energy supply from conventional resources to renewable energies.

Technical details:

  • GHG savings: 5,3 tons of CO2 equivalent saved per ton of lithium hydroxide produced
  • Zero-carbon energy footprint:the energy used to extract the lithium comes from the plant extracting the lithium itself
  • Minimal water and land footprint