The Pyhäsalmi mine, Europe’s deepest zinc and copper mine, is located approximately 450 kilometers north of Helsinki and has the potential to store up to 2 MW of energy in its 1,400 meter deep boreholes.

A gravity battery will be installed in the abandoned mine, lifting heavy loads using excess energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind. During times of low production, the load is released and used to drive a turbine as it descends.

Gravitricity, the Scotland-based company that developed the gravity battery system, plans to demonstrate the technology using the mine in Finland as a full-scale prototype.

“This project will fully demonstrate how our technology can deliver long-lasting, reliable energy storage that can capture and store energy during times of low demand and quickly release it when needed,” says Martin Wright, chairman of Gravitricity.

A study last year by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) estimated that gravity batteries in abandoned underground mines could store up to 70 TWh of energy, enough to meet global electricity needs.

Repurposed mines can also bring economic benefits to communities that previously made their living from mines.

IIASA analysts noted that the mines already have the basic infrastructure in place for such a venture and are also connected to the electricity grid.

“This significantly reduces the costs and tools required to implement UGES (Underground Gravity Energy Storage) facilities,” the study says.

The Pyhäsalmi mine will shut down in 2022, while Graviticity claims 600 jobs will be directly or indirectly affected. Other initiatives being considered for this site include a solar farm.

“As the world produces more electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources, there is an increasing need for technologies that can capture and store energy during times of low demand and quickly release it when needed,” says Gravitricity’s website.

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