Skip to main content

Europe’s mines look to gravity energy storage for green future

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

Mine owners across Europe are looking at a new form of underground energy storage to offer a low carbon future as operations wind down.

Europe’s mines look to gravity energy storage for green future

Active deep mine operators in Slovenia, Germany, The Czech Republic and Finland are all examining how underground gravity energy storage – provided by Edinburgh firm Gravitricity – could offer green opportunities to mining communities facing a downturn in employment.

Gravitricity has developed a unique energy storage system, known as GraviStore, which uses heavy weights – totalling up to 12 000 t – suspended in a deep shaft by cables attached to winches.

This offers a viable alternative future to end of life mine shafts, which otherwise face costly infilling and mine decommissioning costs.

They have teamed up with energy multinational and winch specialist ABB alongside worldwide lifting specialists Huisman to commercialise the technology for mine operators.

Gravitricity say their GraviStore system is ideally suited to recently decommissioned mines, where existing shafts and winches can be repurposed. Their technology is now generating interest among mine operators keen to find green alternatives to decommissioning.

Current projects include:

  • The Velenje mine in the northeastern part of Slovenia.
  • Pyhäsalmi Mine – Europe’s deepest zinc and copper mine – in northern Finland.
  • Darkov Mine in the Czech Republic.
  • Grube Teutschenthal mine, in Germany.

At Velenje, Gravitricity engineers have already visited the site to assess the technical feasibility of installing systems in two specific shafts – one of which is a ventilation shaft which may become available for a potential pilot project next year. Studies are also ongoing at the Pyhäsalmi, Darvok, and Grube Teutschenthal mines, with potential to advance pilot projects in the near future.

Commenting on the projects, Gravitricity Founder and Executive Chairman Martin Wright said:

“Gravity energy storage offers a powerful green opportunity to mine operators looking to extend a mine’s life beyond the extraction of materials.

“As well as being a genuine alternative to decommissioning, new underground energy storage schemes can provide economic and employment opportunities in communities where traditional jobs are in decline.

“Our work with mine operators is underlining the interest in our technology, and we are in dialogue with both mine owners and public sector organisations to turn these studies into operational plans,” Wright concluded.

Gravitricity has already demonstrated its GraviStore technology with an above-ground 250 kW demonstrator, where the company successfully raised and lowered two 25 t weights to generate full power and verify the system’s speed of response.

The £1 million, 12-m-high test rig proved the system can go from zero to full power in less than a second – which can be extremely valuable in the frequency response and back-up power markets – plus its ability to continuously vary power output dependent on demand.

Read the article online at:

You might also like


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):


This article has been tagged under the following:

Mining equipment news European mining news