The Australian-German lithium startup Vulcan Energy Resources has acquired a geothermal power plant in Germany for $35.7Mn. Vulcan wants to upgrade the 4.8 MW plant .The Plant was previously owned by local utility Pfalzwerke.
Vulcan Energy plans to extract lithium in the Upper Rhine Graben. The acquisition now follows long-standing planning to add a pilot plant to the Insheim geothermal power plant this year. The former owner Pfalszwerke has also been part of the project from the start.
With the deal gone through, Vulcan estimates commercial operation in Insheim could start as early as 2022. The company, in earlier statements, said it intended to produce 2,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide annually in the first phase.
However, there is no mention of output targets in an official statement of Pfalzwerke.
Vulcan founder Horst Kreuter however, told the German Handelsblatt that the current buyout aims to refine the lithium extraction process: “This will give us time to develop the technology.”
Since announcing the plans, Vulcan has won prominent customers within a few months. Renault has entered into a binding supply agreement in November following an MoU signed in June.
Vulcan is aiming to start commercial lithium extraction in Germany in 2024. The first stage is expected to result in 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year. The second stage of expansion, starting in 2025, envisages an annual capacity of an additional 25,000 tonnes. Vulcan could then produce a total of 40,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year.