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Europe's Deepest Mine to Become a Giant Battery

An abandoned mine in Finland is set to be transformed into a giant battery to store renewable energy during periods of excess production.


Pyhäsalmi Mine, Finland
Above ground view of the Pyhäsalmi Mine | Wikipedia

The Pyhäsalmi Mine, north of Helsinki, is Europe’s deepest zinc and copper mine and holds enormous potential to store energy within its 1,400-metre-deep shafts. The disused mine will be fitted with a gravity battery, which uses excess energy from renewable sources like solar and wind in order to lift a heavy weight.


As we know, the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, so during such periods, the weight is released and the energy that produces is used to power a turbine as it drops down the shaft.


The gravity battery system has been developed by Scottish firm Gravitricity, which plans to use the Finnish mine as a full-scale prototype to demonstrate the technology. It will be very good news if it proves to be commercially viable as a study last year by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis estimated that gravity batteries in abandoned underground mines could store up to 70TWh of energy - enough to meet global electricity demands.


The additional benefit of repurposing mines is that they tend to already be connected to the power grid, so infrastructure costs can be significantly reduced. Furthermore, repurposed mines could also provide economic benefits to the communities that previously relied on the mine for their livelihoods.


Gravitricity’s website states: “As the world generates more electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources, there is a growing need for technologies which can capture and store energy during periods of low demand and release it rapidly when required. We are developing innovative, long-life, underground technologies which store energy safely and deliver it on demand at a lower lifetime cost than current alternatives.”

 

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