Prototype plan

Scottish energy pioneer to turn deep mine into store

Martin Wright: demonstration

Scottish engineering is being used to transform a disused mine shaft in a small European town into a pioneering underground energy store.

Edinburgh-based Gravitricity will install a prototype of its system in Finland’s 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. 

It is near the town of Pyhäjärvi, with just 5,000 inhabitants, lies 450 km north of Finland’s capital, Helsinki.

Many of the mine’s operations have now ended. However, the plan to use Gravitricity’s energy storage system, known Gravistore, could offer new opportunities for the remote community.

GraviStore raises and lowers heavy weights in underground shafts and the Finnish project would deliver up to 2MW of storage capacity tied straight into the local electricity grid.

An agreement has been signed 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.

Last year, Gravitricity 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 is anticipated ABB would lend their expertise to the project, alongside Gravitricity’s other strategic partner, Dutch winch specialists Huisman.

Commenting on the initiative Gravitricity’s 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.”

He added that it will provide a pathway to other commercial projects and allow the solution to be embedded into mine decommissioning activities, offering a potential future for mines approaching the end of their original service life.

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