UK start-up signs land rental agreement to build its first energy storage demonstrator at the Port of Leith
Gravitricity is set to build a £1m working demonstration of its innovative energy storage system which harnesses the power of gravity to store energy and provide grid balancing services, having secured a land rental agreement for the pilot project in Edinburgh.
In what would be the first working demonstrator for its gravity-based energy storage system, the UK start-up said it planned to begin building work on the project in October this year at an industrial site at the Port of Leith. The company plans for the pioneering energy storage system to be up and running by December.
Gravitricity's 'battery' works by raising multiple heavy weights, totalling up to 12,000 tonnes, in a deep shaft and releasing them again when energy is required. The company envisages installing the system underground in disused mines around the world, providing a cost effective means of energy storage to provide flexibility services to grids thatare becoming increasingly reliant on renewables.
Earlier this year the company secured £300,000 funding from Innovate UK to assess the suitability of former mine shafts in South Africa for the technology, with previous research having indicated the system could potentially store energy at half the lifetime cost of lithium ion batteries.
The pilot project at the Port of Leith is set to trial the system at a much smaller scale, with a 16-metre high rig due to be installed that would utilise the port's electrical network and grid connection to demonstrate the speed of response of the energy storage system, Gravitricity explained.
"This grid-connected demonstrator will use two 25-tonne weights suspended by steel cables," said the firm's lead engineer Miles Franklin. "In our first test we'll drop the weights together to generate full power and verify our speed of response. We calculate we 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. We will then run tests with the two single weights, dropping one after the other to verify smooth energy output over a longer period."
Franklin said the two-month test programme - supported by a previous £640,000 grant from Innovate UK - would provide valuable data to help inform the development of Gravitricity's first full-scale 4MW energy storage project, earmarked to commence in 2021.
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