Geothermal heat and power company Geothermal Engineering announced today that it is raising £600 million (USD$745 million), with proceeds used to expand its production of zero carbon lithium, a biproduct of its geothermal projects, for use in the rapidly growing electric vehicle market.
Lithium is a key input in most energy storage system, and rapidly rising demand for the material from electric vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, alongside slow increases of supply are emerging as key challenges for the EV and battery industries. The lithium supply chain also faces sustainability challenges including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and material waste.
Founded in 2008, UK-based Geothermal Engineering develops geothermal heat and power projects, and is currently developing its flagship project is at United Downs in Cornwall, expected to come online in 2024.
According to the company, recent tests have indicated that the geothermal fluid within the deep wells already drilled at United Downs contain among the highest concentration of lithium found in any commercial geothermal lithium project in Europe, which can be extracted using zero-carbon geothermal power to fuel the extraction process, while also avoiding other sustainability issues typical of lithium extraction, including water evaporation and carbon-intensive quarrying.
The company said that it aims to produce around 100 tonnes per annum (tpa) of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE) in late 2024, ramping up to over 12,000 tpa by 2030, which would be sufficient to produce around 250,000 electric vehicle batteries for an average sized car.
Geothermal Energy said that it has engaged Nomura’s sustainable technology and infrastructure investment banking unit Nomura Greentech to raise funds to support its expansion.
Ryan Law, CEO of Geothermal Engineering, said:
“We are extremely excited by the high concentration of lithium that we have found in our geothermal wells in Cornwall as it will enable us to produce meaningful quantities of lithium without damaging the environment. Our ability to produce both zero-carbon lithium and zero-carbon baseload power will provide a foundation for the electric car market to be truly sustainable in the UK.”