23 Dec 2020, 13:43
Kerstine Appunn

New rules proposed for lithium mining, power users, to make Germany fit for net-zero

Tagesspiegel Background

Just before the Christmas break, Germany’s economy and energy ministry (BMWi) has completed a number of draft bills aimed at reforming geothermal energy use, lithium mining and the handling of new power consumers, such as e-car charging stations, heat pumps and home storage systems in the power grid, Jakob Schlandt and Steven Hanke report in Tagesspiegel Background.

In line with the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), the proposed changes to the mining law simplify and shorten the approval process for geothermal drillings. To facilitate access to lithium, which is urgently needed in battery cell production, a new classification in the mining legislation provides for planning and investment security for companies that want to mine the material, be it in stone or dissolved in deep groundwater, Hanke writes. The combination of geothermal drillings and lithium extraction from deep geothermal wells could prove especially beneficial, a research project conducted by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and others has shown.

The BMWi has also proposed changes to the power grid legislation that allow distribution grid operators to reduce consumption by new large electricity users at times of peak demand. This is to ensure that the power demand of e-car charging hubs, heat pumps in buildings, night storage heaters and electricity storage systems (larger than 3.7 kilowatts) don’t endanger the overall stability of the power grid, Schlandt writes. The operators of these systems can avoid having their power supply reduced by paying extra grid fees, which would be up to five times higher than the normal fees, he reports. The ministry writes that the upcoming ramp-up of electromobility and the grid integration of other flexible consumers would lead to a “high need for grid expansion and immense costs” and could cause increasing delays in new grid connections. The new rules could save “at least 3.6 billion euros by 2030,” the ministry writes in the paper seen by the author.

While e-car associations and consumer groups criticised the idea of cutting power to charging e-cars, energy industry representatives (BDEW, E.ON) welcomed the approach, Schlandt writes.

Germany has set itself the goal of becoming climate-neutral by the middle of the century. The government takes first steps to introduce (green) electricity-based solutions in areas such as mobility and heating to replace the use of fossil fuels.

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