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Scottish firm to demonstrate gravity tech in one of Europe’s deepest mines

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The Edinburgh company has developed an energy storage system, known as GraviStore, which raises and lowers heavy weights in underground shafts, which it says offers “some of the best characteristics of lithium-ion batteries and pumped hydro storage”.

Gravitricity said: “The community of Pyhäjärvi, with just 5000 inhabitants, lies 450 kilometres north of Finland’s capital, Helsinki. Nearby lies Pyhäsalmi Mine – Europe’s deepest zinc and copper mine – owned by First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian mining corporation, and descending 1,444 metres into the earth.

“Many of the mine’s operations have now ended.”

Gravitricity noted its technology uses heavy weights suspended in a deep shaft by cables attached to winches. When there is excess electricity, for example on a windy day, the weight is winched to the top of the shaft ready to generate power. This weight can then be released when required – in less than a second – and the winches become generators, producing either a large burst of electricity quickly, or releasing it more slowly depending on what is needed.

The local community has set up a special development company, called Callio Pyhäjärvi, to promote regeneration projects at the historic mine, of which the GraviStore scheme will be part, Gravitricity noted.

The Edinburgh company said: “The two organisations have now signed an agreement to transform a 530-metre-deep auxiliary shaft into a full-scale prototype of Gravitricity’s technology – and anticipate this could become Europe’s first GraviStore deployment.”

It added that the scheme being developed would deliver up to two megawatts of storage capacity, declaring: “This would tie straight into the local electricity grid and provide balancing services to the Finnish network.”

Gravitricity noted it had last year signed an agreement with Swedish-Swiss energy multinational ABB to use ABB’s mine-hoist expertise to help accelerate the adoption of underground energy storage.

It added that it anticipated ABB would lend its expertise to the project, alongside Gravitricity’s other strategic partner, Dutch winch specialist Huisman.

Gravitricity executive chairman Martin Wright said: “This project will demonstrate at full scale how our technology can offer reliable long-life energy storage that can capture and store energy during periods of low demand and release it rapidly when required.

“This full-scale project will provide a pathway to other commercial projects and allow our solution to be embedded into mine decommissioning activities, offering a potential future for mines approaching the end of their original service life.”

He added: “It will also provide vital new low-carbon jobs in an area which has suffered significantly from the end of traditional mining operations.”

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