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Natuerlich Insheim GmbH (VNI) and the GeoSmart Project

Thu, 01 December, 2022

Founded in 2021 as part of Vulcan Energy Resources GmbH, The Natuerlich Insheim GmbH (VNI) aims to promote carbon-free geothermal energy production in the Upper Rhine Graben.

To achieve this, Natuerlich Insheim GmbH is operating a deep geothermal power plant at the Insheim site in southern Palatinate (Germany).

This low-enthalpy power plant generates a maximum electrical output of 4.8 MW using an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) and achieving around 8000 operating hours per year to provide electrical energy to up to 8000 households in the region. In addition, the energy from the thermal water can potentially deliver district heating too.

The Insheim geothermal power plant is representative of mid-enthalpy geothermal systems that are operational in the Upper Rhine Graben, which is Europe’s prime location for enhanced geothermal system (EGS) research and development.

The VNI is assisting with the goals of the collaborative GeoSmart project to demonstrate and optimise a new flexible generation of geothermal energy resources to produce electrical and thermal energy and replace the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas, which is currently used for local district heating. Any excess energy due to low demands for heating can be used to generate electricity. This innovative approach allows the Insheim power plant to supply energy during seasonal changes between summer and winter.

New installations will be designed and built within the scope of the GeoSmart project, bringing together expertise from various project partners, including TWI, to optimise the technical layout to increase energy production efficiency.

Through this work, the VNI will act as a reference for future geothermal power plants across Europe, so as to deliver the benefits of clean geothermal energy for both thermal and electrical power production.

In addition, Vulcan Energy aim to decarbonise the transition to electric mobility, through their world-first Zero Carbon Lithium™ project for electric vehicle batteries.

Backed by a team of world-renowned experts in chemistry, engineering and geology, Vulcan Energy aim to produce the world’s first, premium, battery-quality lithium chemicals with a zero carbon footprint.

This will be achieved by harnessing renewable geothermal energy to drive lithium production without the use of evaporation ponds, mining or fossil fuels. Vulcan Energy will do this from a combined deep geothermal and lithium brine resource from Germany’s Upper Rhine Valley, which is the home of Europe’s largest lithium resource.

You can find out more about the GeoSmart project at the deidcated project website, here.

(This article is published courtesy of The Natuerlich Insheim GmbH (VNI)).


The GeoSmart project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme grant agreement 818576

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