Construction begins on energy storage system relying on gravity

Posted: September 20, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, Gravity, innovation
Tags: ,

The plan is to use abandoned coal mining shafts globally as power storage plants, and/or drill their own shafts if necessary. Costs are estimated to be lower than other existing energy storage options (see report for details).
– – –
Gravity has been the center of wonderment for physicists, mathematicians and thinkers of all kinds for centuries, says TechXplore.

In the early 1600s, astronomer Galileo dropped balls from the Tower of Pisa and declared that gravitational acceleration is the same for all objects.

Decades later, Isaac Newton expanded on those thoughts and devised his theory of gravity, that all particles attract all other particles with a force directly proportional to the square of the distance between their centers.

Philosopher Thomas Carlyle calculated, “It is a mathematical fact that the casting of a pebble from my hand alters the center of gravity of the universe.” Cosmologist Stephen Hawking declared, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

And physicist Paul Dirac observed: “Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.”

Last week, a British energy startup company placed its own stamp on the history of gravity by beginning construction of an energy storage system powered by—gravity.

As the company says on its web site: “Our patented technology is based on a simple principle: raising and lowering a heavy weight to store and release energy.”

The company, Gravitricity, will manipulate massive weights in a tall shaft to store and deploy energy as needed. The shafts will rise nearly one mile high and the weights will range between 500 to 5,000 tons. Huge winches will raise and lower the weights, and the shafts will be pressurized to boost energy output.

According to Gravitricity officials, peak power generation can reach between 1 and 20 megawatts, with continuous output of up to eight hours.

Maximum wattage power can be achieved in less than a second, officials say, making the system ideal as a back-up power solution.

Costs are lower than current energy storage systems, such as emerging lithium-ion battery solutions.

Gravitricity officials say that unlike battery systems, their storage mechanism can be charged and discharged multiple times a day with no loss of performance for more than two decades.

Continued here.

  1. A C Osborn says:

    So, about one for each Wind turbine.
    That is an aweful lot of Holes in the ground.

  2. ivan says:

    So they managed to con enough money to try a very small demonstration.

    The big problem I see with this is ‘where is the electricity coming from to raise the weights in the first place – that is assuming they use electricity and not large diesel engines. Assuming the general idea is to use excess electricity from unreliable wind what happens when the wind isn’t blowing for a long time and the weights hit the bottom of the shaft – do they use electricity from the coal fired power stations to make their system work, not good when they are supposed to be claiming this will fill in when the unreliables are being unreliable – good on paper, hopeless in practice.

  3. pochas94 says:

    I hope the taxpayers aren’t paying for this.

  4. Tregonsee says:

    The basic idea is sound and in practical use. TVA uses extra power where and when available, whether coal, nuclear, or hydro, to fill the reservoir, and then runs the system backwards to generate electricity during peak demands.

    Whether this will scale downward by orders of magnitude is another question.

  5. Bloke back down the pub says:

    Would it be a viable alternative for tall office blocks to have one built into them as an alternative to backup generators?
    On the topic of energy storage, I see the UK’s mineral blessings continue to offer benefits with Cornish Lithium Ltd finding high concentrations of lithium in the water being brought to the surface for geothermal energy production. A welcome development, if only to allow independence from Chinese supply.

  6. saighdear says:

    About as effective as Wind-up clocks n toys – just a very much larger scale…. and when the spring ( Rope/cable ) breaks …..All that useless scrapped solar panels & weenmulls,munn – aye they could be used as the ballast – or the cree mated parts of the Green Blob, ven ….. Oh excuse me, the Sunday Sunshine & Heat here today must be affecting someone

  7. oldbrew says:

    And physicist Paul Dirac observed: “Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.”

    Maybe, but your electric car won’t go anywhere.

  8. MrGrimNasty says:

    Usual green not economically scalable or realistically useful delusional nonsense. So how many tidal underwater turbines are successfully operating worldwide?

    Dinorwig pumped hydro is 9.1GWh and marginally useful/cost effective, especially for load balancing and short bursts of high demand.

    I reckon their maximum size, 5000T hoisted 1500m stores 18.5MWh – you’d need 500 of these to equal Dinorwig.

    They say 10MWh runs 13,000 houses for 2 hrs. 385w per house per hour – what rubbish?

    In the new world in winter with electric heating and electric cars etc. etc. it’ll be 10 times that easily, so 1,300 houses for 2 hours – what will be the cost per house? Crazy£. There are 25M homes in the UK, and then there is industry and commerce to supply too! So 115,000 of their 10MWh installations would be required just to keep homes warm over a still winter night (assuming conditions beforehand had allowed them to all be fully ‘charged’). Nuts.

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    The most important thing here is that old coal mines will generate (unintended pun) far more revenue than they did in the past. Over and over again, until the government subsidies run out.

  10. oldbrew says:

    A reminder: all forms of electricity storage require more input than they can deliver, i.e. they are net users of power. The economics only work if night-time cheap rate electricity provides the bulk of the input.

    With renewables, the problem then is that there’s no solar power at night, so if it’s not windy where’s the cheap electricity supposed to come from to ‘reload’ the gravity device, hydro reservoir etc.? If you think nuclear can do it, the lack of new builds is an obvious issue as the old plants are getting retired.

    Also, policy says EVs must take over from fuel-powered vehicles and many of them will be charged at night. Awkward.

  11. hunterson7 says:

    Yet another Brobdingnagian batshit crazy way to make no difference to anything other than the bank balance of the insiders getting the contract.

  12. hunterson7 says:

    And of course The Beatles prophesized this developing madness…

  13. Peter Norman says:

    Patented technology? Weights on a chain? They must be kidding! Now if they were to take two wind turbines, up-cycle one with a big hand and a small hand then add a few bells and whistles, they could end up with the biggest wind powered grandfather clock in the world. I think that might be worth a patent!

  14. oldmanK says:

    Qoute oldbrew “The economics only work if night-time cheap rate electricity provides the bulk of the input.”

    Night-time cheap rate electricity is a question of economics. Likely the generating efficiency at partial load during the night is considerably lower.

  15. oldbrew says:

    Maybe solid state batteries offer a better option.

    With Solid State Energy Storage, Oil-Rich Texas Hits Clean Tech Trifecta
    September 19th, 2020

  16. JB says:

    Until the shafts shear from seismic disturbance. Who would work down there with a monstrous weight suspended above?

  17. ivan says:

    With Solid State Energy Storage, Oil-Rich Texas Hits Clean Tech Trifecta

    That one sounds like more pie in the sky thinking and is being pushed as a way to have the US taxpayers footing the bill for something that might, or most probably, might not scale to anything useful.

  18. stpaulchuck says:

    more magic beans on special sale

  19. oldbrew says:

    With coal, oil, gas and nuclear the energy storage is built-in 😉

    But instead we try to solve problems we don’t need to have.

  20. gbaikie says:

    I was wondering whether mine shafts would be full of water. Then it occurred to me, it still works if full there was water. Or could do same thing on lake or ocean. Next question, could better drop it in water? Water has more drag, and that is negative. Water also has more pressure- also seems only to be a negative. As more corrosive issues.
    And it not going thru water, one use water as the weight.
    Not getting any advantages of moving it thru water springing mind, other an ocean can be very deep hole. Hmm
    Well strength of cable is going to a limiting factor, and with something in water you can lift more mass with smaller cable, and other drag issues, one can have more mass and more gravity with the smaller cable.

  21. Mišo Alkalaj says:

    And to store 10 MWh with a 50 t weight the shaft has to go down to 3600 km. More actually, because gravitational acceleration goes towards 0 as one approaches the centre of the Earth and 3600 km is more than half way there.

    What is fascinating is that one always finds financing for such obviously hare-brained schemes.

  22. cognog2 says:

    All these storage systems provide a negative energy result at high capital cost. As they act as consumers of energy during the cycle they require additional energy capacity from the original source, again at high capital cost. The result is to increase the cost of energy markedly.

  23. Gamecock says:

    “Usual green not economically scalable or realistically useful delusional nonsense.”

    The issue isn’t the issue. We get these monthly tech updates to get us to believe that renewables can be viable.

  24. oldbrew says:

    But in the real world renewables aren’t even keeping pace with the rate of increase in total energy consumption.

  25. gbaikie says:

    –cognog2 says:
    September 21, 2020 at 12:17 pm
    All these storage systems provide a negative energy result at high capital cost. As they act as consumers of energy during the cycle they require additional energy capacity from the original source, again at high capital cost. The result is to increase the cost of energy markedly.–

    You don’t have a constant electrical power need/demand, which result having more power generation then is needed. And as more electrical is needed, more powerplant come online- which similar to having batteries or backup power.
    Solar power was unwisely considered as source of such back up power to “solve” peak power problems- but it was lie and/or stupidity. Of course solar and wind cause serious problems in terms of balancing power demand. But if there wasn’t any “alternative energy” causing unbalances, you still have problem of needing excess electrical power generation to handle peak energy needs.

    One thing about this, is we going to have a lot junk from our wind power failure, and part of that junk will be electrical generators. Perhaps such generators can be used/recycled.

  26. gbaikie says:

    Of course if get electrical power from Space, a general aspect related to that is having global power network. Or could think one has one solar power satellite in GEO always “hanging above” some city, but a satellite in GEO is still blocked from sunlight {Earth gets in the way] so one gets 90% + of constant power. So even if one constant energy demand, one needs other GEO satellites, so that has lead to a network or electrical power grid, but in space one can actually make global power network, and you would do this. This also allows grid power anywhere on Earth surface- or you get electrical power in the middle of Pacific. So Electrical power anywhere on Earth, and it could balance peak power needs.
    But we probably +50 years away from having Space Power Satellites which could do this.

  27. Kip Hansen says:

    The demonstration project will be a “shaft 17 yards long”……17 meters….56 feet… five stories….Our Boy Scout troop could have built a tower higher than that using lashing skills!

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