Gravitricity set to pilot new gravity-based energy storage technology


Edinburgh-based start-up Gravitricity has signed a land rental agreement with Forth Ports to build their first energy storage demonstrator on land within the Port of Leith. Work on this £1 million ($1.22 million) project is set to begin in October, with plans for operations to begin in December.

The 16-metre high rig will use the port’s electrical network and grid connections and will be used to demonstrate the speed of response of the energy storage system.

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Gravitricity’s energy battery works by raising multiple heavy weights of up to 12,000 tonnes within a vertical shaft, typically an unused mine shaft for planned applications, to store gravitational energy and releasing the weights when power is required.

The demonstrator project will allow the technology to be trialled on a smaller scale, utilising an above-ground structure.

The company secured £300,000 in funding from Innovate UK earlier this year to assess the suitability of former mine shafts in South Africa for the technology. Previous research suggested that the technology can undercut similar levels of storage capacity using lithium-ion batteries by as much as half of the comparative lifetime cost.

In a statement, Gravitricity’s lead engineer Miles Franklin said “This grid-connected demonstrator will use two 25-tonnes weights suspended by steel cables. 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. Together, this two-month test programme will confirm our modelling and give us valuable data for our first full-scale 4MW project which will commence in 2021.”

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