On 24 November 2020, Luís Lopes and Gauthier Quinonez participated in the “Geothermal lithium and sustainable battery production in the EU” Webinar hosted by EGEC Geothermal. Lithium-ion batteries are vital to accelerating the decarbonisation of transport and better integrating variable renewable energies into electricity grids. However, Europe´s balance regarding lithium´s import is negative. As such, the ambitious EU climate goals may be in jeopardy when faced with the reality of the import market coupled with the rapid increase in global demand for lithium. The next couple years in raw materials policy could prove crucial for the EU long lasting pledge toward climate neutrality.
Whilst, Europe has a yet untapped lithium potential in its sub-soil, the answer to the growing demand may not come from traditional mining but from geothermal power generation. Studies suggest that Europe´s potential for geothermal is high – geothermal power could become a baseload power generation for heat and electricity on the continent.
Now, recovery of mineral raw materials could be achieved thanks to geothermal too. Geothermal water (or brine) has a high concentration of minerals. Current exploratory techniques enable to target geothermal reservoirs with high flow of water and high concentration of lithium in a geothermal reservoir. Said lithium-rich brine can be taped to produce heat and/or electricity, while, in addition, minerals such as lithium can be extracted from the brine in surface installations before being reinjected into the geothermal reservoir to be-reused, thus providing a virtually infinite flow of heat and lithium. Horst Kreuter (Co-Founder & Executive-Director, Vulcan Energy Resources Limited) and James Frith (Head of Energy Storage, Bloomberg NEF) indicated that a geothermal plant combining heat and mineral extraction would have a negative emission potential during its lifetime thanks to the combination of green carbon-neutral geothermal power and the positive impact on circular that lithium can have. The future of lithium EU strategy and geothermal potential is bounded to public awareness and cohesive action at EU level noted Claudia Gamon (MEP, Renew Europe).
From LPRC´s point of view, this geothermal lithium concept is yet another positive note on the company´s past and ongoing projects focused on geothermal. LPRC was involved in the CHPM2030 project from its creation in 2016 to its closure in 2019. More recently, LPRC has started its role as WP leader for CROWDTHERMAL which aims at empowering EU citizens in geothermal. Both projects have ties with geothermal lithium and EU just transition, proving that LPRC is always at the forefront of innovation and market trends.Cr