Great South West’s Clean Energy Leaders: Driving the UK’s energy transition with Cornish Lithium

Cornish Lithium

The Great South West is set to become one of the leading providers of low carbon energy in the UK by 2035. Our region’s unique offer of clean energy projects – 535 operational or in development – could generate 11% of the UK’s electricity capacity, helping to deliver the country’s net zero ambitions. In this series, we’re highlighting the fantastic work of some of these projects.

Cornish Lithium is supporting the UK’s Green Revolution and transition to renewable energy by building a secure domestic supply of lithium, a crucial element for batteries used in electric vehicles, against the backdrop of a global shortage.

Why is lithium critical to a greener future?

Lithium is at the heart of the global transformation to an electric car future. It can hold a charge for longer than most other elements, making it ideal for use in rechargeable batteries, especially for portable applications or mobility. As well as being used in electric car batteries, lithium is also used in large-scale renewable power storage batteries.

Electric vehicle manufacturers are increasingly dependent on a reliable and sustainable supply of lithium given the rapid adoption of lithium-ion battery technology by the global automotive industry. Demand for lithium is growing rapidly as the UK moves to ban the sale of conventional cars, with new vehicle sales being 100% electric by 2030. Global battery grade lithium compound supplies are currently dominated by China and supply is severely constrained, resulting in a significant global shortage. Cornish Lithium aims to produce commercial quantities of battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Cornwall by the end of 2026, contributing to a secure, domestic supply of this key raw material. 

Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO at Cornish Lithium, said: “We believe that securing a local supply of lithium is pivotal for the UK’s journey to net zero. Our work is a cornerstone of powering the UK’s transition to a sustainable tomorrow, while empowering local communities and strengthening the region’s role in the net zero agenda.”

How is Cornish Lithium developing new and innovative ways to extract lithium?

Cornish Lithium aims to commercially develop two methods for responsible lithium extraction. 

One is using Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology to extract lithium from geothermal waters deep beneath the surface of Cornwall. These mineral-rich waters contain lithium, as well as significant quantities of carbon-free heat energy, which Cornish Lithium believes can be commercially extracted for the benefit of industry and local communities. This is a sustainable process, with little to no wastage and low impact on the environment, utilising renewable energy, and may also generate a supply of water that could be used to alleviate the water shortages the South West is currently experiencing.

The second method extracts lithium from hard rock at a repurposed china clay pit. This method will utilise Lepidico’s processing technology, and is expected to have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to other hard rock lithium extraction processes used elsewhere in the world. It  aims to provide a commercial supply of lithium from the end of 2026.

What impact does Cornish Lithium’s work have on local communities?

Cornish Lithium is creating skilled jobs in Cornwall, and aims to grow the team from 70 to over 300 by 2026, providing training opportunities and employment options for local people in some of the most deprived areas of Cornwall.

To inspire the next generation, encourage curiosity in science and showcase the world-class career opportunities that will be created in Cornwall, Cornish Lithium delivers an active education programme in partnership with local schools and colleges.

Cornish Lithium is also proud to lend a helping hand to local charities and initiatives, from heritage mining trails and community events to wildlife care programmes and environmental causes. Most recently, Cornish Lithium has launched a Community Fund. This supports local clubs, charities and activity groups that make a positive difference to their communities.

How will Cornish Lithium support the UK’s net zero future?

By 2030, the UK car industry is expected to need 80,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent to meet domestic demand and fuel the Green Revolution. Cornish Lithium aims to provide a secure and responsible domestic supply.  Every tonne supplied domestically by Cornish Lithium is one tonne less that the UK needs to import from overseas, cutting the carbon footprint of lithium needed for domestic battery manufacturing and strengthening the UK’s car manufacturing supply chain. 

Download our Clean Energy Powerhouse Prospectus to find out how the Great South West can help the UK achieve net zero.

Find out more about Cornish Lithium.