Government backs ‘Europe’s first’ geothermal lithium recovery plant in Cornwall

The project aims to help the area become the principal lithium battery hub for the UK

Cornwall will soon be the home of what is considered to be ‘Europe’s first’ geothermal recovery plant, which will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle (EV) and power storage batteries.

The UK Government will back the project with its Getting Building Funds – the site secured an initial £4 million investment.

Cornish Lithium and Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) have teamed up to build a zero-carbon, lithium extraction pilot plant at the United Downs Industrial Estate in Cornwall.

The aim is to demonstrate that lithium can be produced with no carbon footprint using geothermal energy.

Two deep wells have been drilled at the site – one for production of hot water at a depth of 5,2 kilometres, which is the deepest onshore well in the UK, and one for re-injection of this water at a depth of 2,3 kilometres.

The temperature at the bottom of the production well is expected to be about 195˚C.

The work on this project is expected to support the UK’s green recovery and Cornwall’s economic regeneration – if the project is successful, then the construction of larger facilities at a number of sites across Cornwall will be planned.

Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium, commented: “The funding will significantly accelerate our work to demonstrate that lithium can be produced in a sustainable, zero-carbon, manner and will enable us to fast-track similar projects in other locations across Cornwall once the plant has been completed.”

Dr Ryan Law, Managing Director of Geothermal Engineering Ltd, said: “We believe Cornwall’s untapped natural resources are significant and are delighted to be partnering with Cornish Lithium to maximise the synergies between the two technologies in order to unlock this potential.”

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