ABB has signed an agreement with UK-based gravity energy storage firm Gravitricity to explore how “hoist expertise and technologies” can accelerate the development and implementation of gravity energy storage systems in former mines.
Gravitricity is the developer of ‘GraviStore’, a gravity energy storage system that stores energy by raises and lowers heavy weights in underground shafts. Gravitricity says GraviStores will store more than 20MWh and, unlike batteries, it can “operate for decades without any reduction in performance”. Edinburgh-headquartered Gravitricity has “already proven the system” with a scale demonstrator in Leith and is exploring the potential to deploy their groundbreaking technology in decommissioned mines worldwide, a statement said.
Mine hoist-provider ABB will collaborate by providing research and development, product development and engineering teams specialising in the design, engineering and operations of mine hoists and mechanical, electrical and control technologies for hoisting.
The decommissioning of mine shafts is a costly and time-consuming process for mining companies. By repurposing disused mine shafts for energy storage, mine shafts can fill a productive function for up to 50 years beyond their original lifetime, and can mitigate decommissioning costs, while simultaneously creating new job opportunities and contributing to the green energy transition.
Martin Wright, Gravitricity’s co-founder and executive chairman, said: “As the world generates more electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources, there is a growing need for technologies which can capture and store energy during periods of low demand and release it rapidly when required. Our GraviStore underground gravity energy storage uses the force of gravity to offer some of the best characteristics of lithium-ion batteries and pumped hydro storage – at low cost, and without the need for any rare earth metals.”
Wright added: “We are already seeing significant interest from mine operators in Europe, India and Australia and this partnership with ABB – with decades of electrification and mine hoist system expertise – will help us accelerate our ambitious commercialization plans.”
Charles Bennett, global service manager, business line hoisting, ABB Process Industries: “ABB has 130 years of history with mine hoists, since we first electrified one in Sweden in the 1890s, but this collaboration with Gravitricity shows how we can continue to diversify and adapt our technologies. We are eager to progress with our collaboration and explore the possibilities as we become part of the next generation of renewable energy storage systems and make use of mine shafts that are no longer in service.”