Vulcan Energy’s new geothermal and lithium brine exploration licence could decarbonise large industrial areas of Frankfurt through heat supply, with potential for lithium extraction.
Vulcan Energy Resources aims to be the world’s first dual lithium chemicals and renewable energy producer with net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Its unique Zero Carbon Lithium™ project – progressing towards ‘finance ready’ by November – will produce renewable geothermal energy and enough lithium hydroxide for 1 million EVs per year from the same deep brine source in the Upper Rhine Valley, Germany.
The additional tenure called Luftbrücke grows Vulcan Energy’s total Zero Carbon Lithium project area by 13% to 1,790km2 and gives it a new set of potential energy customers.
The Luftbrücke license covers the region of Frankfurt which includes Main Höchst Chemical Park and Frankfurt Airport – both heavy energy consumers requiring large quantities of renewable energy and heating. The Frankfurt Airport is the busiest passenger terminal in Germany.
Conveniently, the area is also where the commissioning of Vulcan’s Central Lithium Electrolysis Optimisation Plant (CLP) is set to be completed before the end of the year.
The company says this will provide further opportunities for cheaper energy and decarbonisation as Vulcan aims to grow its lithium chemicals production “in a phased, stepwise manner”.
Frankfurt: Poised for an energy shift
The Rhine-Main metropolitan area, which Frankfurt is in the heart of, is home to 5.8 million people and is one of Europe’s largest industrial hubs.
Frankfurt also has a high heat demand in the range of 6-12TWh per annum which is currently powered by carbon-intensive energy sources, mainly gas and coal.
But the City of Frankfurt is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2035 and the German Federal Government is aiming for 100 new geothermal projects to be built by the end of the decade.
Good news for Vulcan.
Given Frankfurt’s high heat demand, there is a significant commercial and decarbonisation opportunity for the company via geothermal renewable energy development in Luftbrücke, Vulcan management says.
Vulcan is also invested in a joint research well with the City of Frankfurt, the Hessian Ministry of Economics, the LandesEnergieAgentur Hessen, the state geological survey, the BäderBetriebe Frankfurt, Mainova AG, the Leibniz Institute of Applied Geophysics and GLU Freiberg to test the heat and lithium concentrations.
So far, the well has been drilled and brine sampling analysis work is under way. The budding lithium producer is also assessing whether the high lithium concentrations in the Buntsandstein brine reservoir extend to the Rotliegend reservoir to the north under Luftbrücke.
“This new licence signifies a major future phase opportunity for Vulcan as a dual lithium and geothermal energy producer,” Vulcan CEO Cris Moreno says.
“We have a strong presence already in the region as we progress towards commissioning of our Central Lithium Electrolysis Optimisation Plant located in Höchst Chemical Park, which will also be the location of our Central Lithium Plant for our Phase 1 commercial operations.
“We look forward to growing our relationship with the Frankfurt region and its stakeholders to support their energy transition to meet their carbon neutral goals by 2035.”