Even though people will probably keep digging for every last bit of fossil fuels, we must focus on and consider more sustainable sources. Auto manufacturers have doubled down on making their operations eco-friendlier, with many setting a target of carbon neutrality in the near future. One such example is Stellantis, which just announced it's teaming up with Vulcan to explore using geothermal energy to decarbonize and localize its operations in Europe.
Vulcan Energy Resources is an Australia-based energy metal exploration company that aims to decarbonize the transition to electric mobility via its Zero Carbon Lithium Project. The project involves the production of the world's first premium, battery-quality lithium chemical with zero carbon footprint.
The feat is possible by harnessing renewable geothermal energy to support production without using fossil fuels, mining, or evaporation ponds from one of Europe's largest lithium resources in the Upper Rhine Valley of Germany. The company claims it can "satisfy Europe's lithium needs for many years to come and ensure the shift to EVs is done with minimal environmental footprint."
Stellantis and Vulcan have signed a binding sheet for the first phase of a multi-phase project. Its goal is to develop a new geothermal project to decarbonize the energy mix of Stellantis' Rüsselsheim industrial site in Germany, known to manufacture both the Opel Astra and DS4. It's estimated that the project could sustain a significant portion of the site's annual energy needs starting in 2025.
The first part of the project includes a pre-feasibility study for the construction of geothermal assets for Stellantis' facility, which Vulcan will do. If it turns out successful, drilling will follow, along with more advanced studies and development. Stellantis aims to source funding for half of the project development, and the local government will also provide support.
The resulting clean electricity will be supplied to the grid for internal and external consumption, respecting Germany's Renewable Energy Act (EEG). The produced heat will also be transferred to Stellantis' manufacturing site.
Stellantis is committed to becoming carbon net zero by 2038 and plans a 50% reduction by 2030 as part of its Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan. Moreover, it aims for 100% of sales in Europe and 50% of sales in the United States to be BEVs (battery electric vehicles) by the end of this decade and to reach global annual BEV sales of five million cars by 2030.
The company is Vulcan's largest lithium customer, so this collaboration can be a win-win for both parties. Furthermore, Vulcan stated this project is a complementary opportunity to expand its development pipeline to outer-lying areas in the Upper Rhine Valley.