Dutch heavy crane and offshore manufacturer Huisman has teamed up with Gravitricity to install a new power generation concept involving heavy weights that use gravity to generate power to help with demand spikes.
The Gravitricity system uses excess electricity during off peak times to lift large weights located in a vertical shaft, which when released, turns the winches into generators putting power back into the system. The shafts can be anywhere up to 1,500 metres deep and the system can use weights up to 3,000 tonnes, with heavier weights resulting in more energy being stored.
The company claims a typical system can power over 13,000 homes for two hours – or deliver a shorter burst of high power – and that it has the same fast response times of lithium-ion batteries but with zero degradation, even after 50 years of daily use. It is also predicting that its gravity based system will be the cheapest form of storage in the ‘fast frequency response’ market, ahead of lithium-ion, lead/acid and flywheel technologies.
Set to be fully operational by the end of the year, the 250kW concept demonstrator will be installed in Scotland and connected to a simulated grid. If successful it will be followed by a full scale commercial prototype in a disused mineshaft.
Charlie Blair, Gravitricity managing director, said: “Our solution is cost effective, very long lasting and has a high round trip efficiency and fast response time. It is also non polluting especially compared with battery storage. Electricity grids are changing as we transition to 100 percent renewables and our technology has a great part to play as an infrastructure asset built into grids. It is fantastic to have signed a major contract with Huisman after two years working with them on our design.”
Peter Berting, global business development director at Huisman, added: “We are delighted to start with this project that enables competitive global green energy storage and discharge by using the existing innovative Huisman technology and capabilities in a growing market. We are very pleased to contribute to the current energy transition with this step changing green solution.”
Huisman has been developing full electric lifting and lowering systems for stabilising power on offshore vessels since 1984. It got together with Gravitricity to develop this new land based system in 2018.