Gravity batteries are a new technology that supports the generation and storage of renewable energy through regenerative braking and gravity. A recent study on this technology has proved that old mines could be pivotal in enhancing the use of gravity batteries since they provide an ideal landscape.
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In recent research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) reviewed the possibility of using gravity batteries. The researchers studied a system known as Underground Gravity Energy Storage (UGES). In this system, large containers loaded with sand are dropped into mine shafts when energy is at peak hours. The containers then transform their potential energy into real energy through regenerative braking.
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The study published in the “Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute” journal proved that the concept of gravity batteries is actually viable. The study shows that when the containers are lowered, they recharge the mine and bring back the sand to the surface when energy is off-peak.
“Mines already have the basic infrastructure and are connected to the power grid, which significantly reduces the cost and facilitates the implementation of UGES plants,” IIASA researcher Julian Hunt said in a statement.
Given that the batteries do not lose any energy over the storage period, they could act as long-term energy reservoirs. Besides their energy storage capacity, these batteries could utilize plenty of unused resources hiding within old mines. Further, they could preserve a lot of jobs that may be lost by shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
The only problem with this technology is that the batteries are too big. They are unattractive and may not be set up in areas without old mines. With countries like the U.S. having so many abandoned mines, researchers are working to prove that they should be turned into productive energy sources. Just earlier this month, scientists unveiled a battery that uses abandoned mines to generate and store energy for the future.
Reports in the media also indicate that some companies are already exploring ways to transform abandoned coal mines into energy sources. However, the challenges being faced include the location of such mines and the nature of the batteries.
Lead image via Energy Vault