Energy storage innovators Gravitricity have signed a development deal with global engineers ABB designed to advance both parties’ hoists-as-batteries offer.

Re-opening old mine shafts across the globe and extending the lives of those approaching closure are the focus of GraviStore, the Edinburgh firm’s proposal for rapidly dispatchable clean power, including potentially at grid scale.

Today’s deal commits the multinational giant to assist Gravitricity in developing its alternative to pumped hydro storage and to battery chemistries relying on lithium and other rare metals.

Employing ABB’s knowledge of hoist engineering in deep shafts worldwide holds out potential, the parties believe, to give purposeful second life to scores of thousands of existing, often declining facilities.

Unlike batteries relying on chemical storage, Gravitricity says its proprietary technology can assist power storage at various scales over many decades, and without any decline in performance.

The firm says it has already proven Gravitricity technically, thanks to a scale demonstrator in Leith. Now it is exploring the potential to deploy its groundbreaking technology in decommissioned mines worldwide.

ABB contributes unique depth of experience, says the Scots firm, thanks to its record of installing over 1,000 hoist and winches in deep shafts worldwide, including the example pictured.

Under the new deal, 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.

Mine operators in Europe, India and Australia are already showing interest in Gravitricity’s offering, according to the firm’s co-founder Martin Wright.

“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,” Wright noted.

“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.

The Swiss-Swedish multinational sees its co-development with the Edinburgh start up as another route in working with companies providing adjacent and value-adding technologies.

“ABB has 130 years of history with mine hoists, since we first electrified one in Sweden in the 1890s”, said Charles Bennett, global service manager in ABB’s process industries division.

“Collaborating with Gravitricity shows how we can continue to diversify and adapt our technologies,” “We are eager to progress….as we become part of the next generation of renewable energy storage systems and to make use of mine shafts that are no longer in service.”


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