The Edinburgh-based energy storage specialists will work with Industrial Systems and Control (ISC), winch specialists Huisman and Careys Civil Engineering to deliver the front-end engineering design (FEED) for a 4MWh, multi-weight system using a custom-built shaft.
The FEED study is being supported by the BEIS (Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy) Longer Duration Energy Storage Competition, a competitive funding scheme to accelerate the commercialisation of energy storage projects. Gravitricity secured a grant of £912,410 towards the £1,520,684 project cost.
“Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy,” said energy and climate change minister Greg Hands. “It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.”
The Gravitricity system stores electricity by raising and lowering heavy weights in a shaft and analysts at Imperial College predict the multi-weight concept will offer long duration energy storage at a lower levelized cost than alternative technologies, including lithium-ion batteries.
Gravitricity and its partners will also work with a site partner to secure the planning consents required to develop and build their multi-weight gravity energy store at a grid-connected site in northern England.
The feasibility project will complete in late 2022 and will provide the information required to commence build of the full-scale commercial prototype multi-weight gravity energy store, subject to planning permission and funding.
The company anticipates that a substantial amount of the mechanical design and optimisation of hoisting equipment for fast response applications will be directly transferable from this project to all future applications, as will the control systems being developed.
In a statement, Gravitricity managing director Charlie Blair said: “Our multi-weight concept has been proven by our Leith demonstrator where two 25 tonne weights were configured to run independently, delivering smooth continuous output when lowered one after the other. We were able to demonstrate a roundtrip efficiency of more than 80 per cent and the ability to ramp up to full import or export power in less than a second.”
The £1.5m feasibility project follows the success of the company’s 250kW demonstrator, which was commissioned and operated in Edinburgh in summer 2021. The company is also advancing plans to build a full-scale single-weight project in a disused mine shaft in mainland Europe, which will commence this year.