Edinburgh energy storage firm Gravitricity hooks up to European backing

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Gravitricity, the Edinburgh-based company looking to build an energy storage project in a disused mineshaft, has secured support from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The company has developed a system for storing and releasing energy using winches and weights – totalling up to 12,000 tonnes. A 250-kilowatt demonstrator project at the Port of Leith has trialled the technology and the company is now looking to build a full-scale project on mainland Europe.

The EIB is to support the plans by providing 120 days of consultancy time, as well as independently validating Gravitricity’s proposals for a project at the recently mothballed Staric mine in the Moravian Silesian region of Czechia. The mine lies within a large coalfield that extends across the border into Poland.

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The Gravitricity system stores and releases energy using winches and weights. Picture: contributed.The Gravitricity system stores and releases energy using winches and weights. Picture: contributed.
The Gravitricity system stores and releases energy using winches and weights. Picture: contributed.

In Poland alone there are more than 30 recently decommissioned mines, and Gravitricity estimates that worldwide there are around 14,000 mines that could be suitable for gravity energy storage.

Specialists appointed by the bank have begun evaluating test results from Gravitricity’s demonstrator project and will also look at potential revenue streams to help the company take forward its plans.

Gravitricity project development manager Chris Yendell said: “We already have a high level of confidence in our technology and its ability to store energy effectively. What these studies will bring is increased understanding and confidence in how a full-scale project will play into a specific energy market.

“This understanding, together with projected revenue forecasts, will help unlock the project funding our first scheme will require.”

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The Staric mine is one of a number of potential sites identified by the company, with a final selection decision expected within the next few months. Gravitricity believes its technology can provide a valuable role in providing back-up power for electricity grids when needed.

Last year, Gravitricity raised more than £1.5 million through a crowdfunding campaign and it has also received a £640,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK government's innovation agency.

Analysts have calculated that Gravitricity's system can store energy at half the lifetime cost of lithium-ion batteries. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates the burgeoning energy storage market will be worth as much as $620 billion (£457bn) globally by 2040.

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