Scottish solution could offer new future for European coal mines

Exkurze v dole Paskov (Staříč II)

A novel form of energy storage from a Scottish firm could offer a new future for former coal mines as countries look to decarbonise their energy supplies.

Gravitricity is exploring the potential to transform a former Czech coal mine into a ‘massive’ energy store, which it said could be a pathfinder for projects across Europe.

The firm specialises in gravity energy storage, with its solution storing and discharging energy by lifting and lowering massive weights in a shaft.

It has already demonstrated a scale version of its technology in Edinburgh and now plans to commence a full-scale 4-8MW prototype scheme in a disused mine next year.

The firm said that the single weight system could deliver up to two megawatt hours (MWh) of energy storage, which would be enough to power more than 16,000 homes for 15 minutes – with future systems potentially having a capacity of more than 25MWh.

Gravitricity engineers recently returned from a project to the Staříč mine in the Moravian Silesian Region of Czechia, where six deep mining sites were formally transitioned into a post mining phase earlier this year.

On site, they investigated the mine shaft, traveling to a depth of over 1km underground and met state-run mine owners DIAMO, along with the regional government and local stakeholders including VSB Technical University of Ostrava.

Chris Yendell, project development manager at Gravitricity, said, “As the world moves to net zero, we are shifting from coal generation to intermittent renewables – and with this comes a need for energy storage. By utilising former coal mines as massive energy stores, we can find new uses for existing infrastructure and help mitigate the social impact on mining communities. We received a very warm welcome in Czechia and have received a formal letter of support from the region’s governor.”

Ludvík Kašpar, CEO of DIAMO, added, “We are ready to cooperate in this preparation of this project and have provided Gravitricity with all the information to allow them to make a fully qualified decision on the Staříč mine. We are convinced that closed mines have the potential for further use and an energy storage project could be attractive and useful for the region.”

Worldwide, Gravitricity estimates there are around 14,000 mines which could be suitable for gravity energy storage.