A Scottish company is experimenting with an unlikely place to store energy: an abandoned mine shaft.
The technology uses a basic principle of physics: lifting a heavy object requires energy. And, when the object is let go, that energy is released.
Blair: “We lift a heavy weight up a vertical shaft and that takes electricity from the grid to lift that weight. And then the weight can sit there at the top of the shaft for as long as we want it to, and we can let it back down again to discharge electricity back to the grid.”
Charlie Blair is managing director of Gravitricity Limited. He says the system will use a 500-ton weight and store enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes for 15 minutes.
Blair expects the company to eventually use weights up to five-thousand tons to store even more energy.
And he says, in the long run, they will start drilling their own shafts.
Blair: “We can sink a shaft exactly where the storage is required.”
Because the availability of sunlight and wind fluctuates, storing energy is critical. Blair says that when scaled up, his technology could help accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.