Start of the project: 2022
Project duration: 48 months
Grant agreement: nє101058163
Geothermal fluids often contain large amounts of elements that the EU considers "critical" raw materials (CRM). Preliminary calculations show that even one well can produce single-digit percentages of the EU's needs. Combined heat and mineral extraction maximizes return on investment, minimizes environmental impact, requires no additional land use, leaves no mining legacy, has a near-zero carbon footprint and ensures domestic CRM supply.
To assess the overall supply potential, CRM-geothermal will expand the existing geothermal fluid atlas by collecting new data and sampling wells to determine CRM content in Europe and East Africa. The potential of different geological conditions for combined production will be assessed. Extraction/separation methods exist, but must be adapted to the harsh conditions of such systems (high temperature, pressure and salinity). Material combinations and flow patterns will be evaluated at laboratory scale to optimize systems for various geothermal plants and CRMs.
A modular mobile facility will be developed and deployed at existing geothermal facilities for pilot studies, scale-up studies and system integration. Technological developments will be accompanied by environmental and social impact assessments to ensure effective management. A UNFC/UNRMS compliant reporting template will be developed to build confidence among investors, regulators and the public. The project will promote key benchmarks for engaging stakeholders to obtain and maintain a 'social license to operate'. Combined mining creates new business opportunities for both small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies, and its economics under likely future market developments will be explored in order to propose appropriate business models.
CRM geothermal energy will unlock a potentially huge untapped resource and deploy solutions to help Europe achieve the strategic goals of the EU Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Agenda.