Fast, Versatile Energy Storage
As the world generates more and 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.
At Gravitricity we are developing a novel storage technology which offers some of the best characteristics of lithium batteries and pumped storage.
Ideally suited to network-constrained users and operators, distribution networks and major power users, the technology operates in the 1MW to 20 MW power range and enables existing grid infrastructure to go further in a renewable energy world.
Our patented technology is based on a simple principle: raising and lowering a heavy weight to store energy. In practice, it has similar advantages to pumped storage for networks up to 33kV, without the need for a nearby mountain with a lake or loch at the top.
Our Gravitricity™ technology has a unique combination of characteristics:
- 50-year design life – with no cycle limit or degradation
- Response time – zero to full power in less than one second
- Efficiency – between 80 and 90 percent
- Versatile – can run slowly at low power or fast at high power
- Simple – easy to construct near networks
- Cost effective – levelised costs well below lithium batteries
Each unit can be configured to produce between 1 and 20MW peak power, with output duration from 15 minutes to 8 hours.
Essentially, the Gravitricity system is a huge ‘clock weight’. A cylindrical weight of 500 - 5000 tonnes is suspended in a deep shaft by a number of cables each of which is engaged with a winch capable of lifting its share of the weight. Electrical power is then absorbed or generated by raising or lowering the weight. The weight is guided by a system of tensioned guide wires (patents applied for) to prevent it from swinging and damaging the shaft. The winch system can be accurately controlled through the electrical drives to keep the weight stable in the hole.
The key requirement is a deep hole in the ground; it can be a disused mineshaft brought back into use, or a purpose-sunk shaft. Shaft depths can be from 150m for new shafts down to 1500m for existing mines.
Initially we will prove the technology using existing mine shafts. Future deployments will be able to utilise existing mines or purpose-built shafts, allowing development wherever storage is required.
During 2019/20 we are undertaking sub-system design and will be building a 250kW concept demonstrator in 2020. We aim to deploy our first full-scale prototype in 2021 or 2022 at a disused mine in the UK.
We are working with Dutch winch and offshore manufacturer Huisman Equipment BV and are developing an Industrial Consortium to take the technology to market.
Huisman is a privately owned company operating globally with extensive experience in the design and manufacturing of heavy construction equipment for world’s leading on and offshore companies.
Huisman was originally founded in 1929 as a steel construction company and now has the capacity to develop products from concept to delivery. Their product range can be subdivided into four main categories: Heavy Lifting Equipment, Drilling Equipment, Pipelay Equipment and Mooring Systems and varies from stand-alone components to highly engineered integrated systems.
Their operations are divided between offices in The Netherlands, Brazil, China, Czech Republic and USA and production facilities in The Netherlands, Czech Republic and China.
The grid connection is through modern power electronics to permit rapid switching between generation and absorption of power and the system can deliver active as well as reactive power to help with grid stability.
While the weight system can be used on its own, the energy storage capacity of the overall system can be much increased when the shaft is used as a pressure vessel, allowing a compressed air energy storage (patent applied for.) to operate alongside the weight system. This involves adding a pressure-tight “lid” to the top of the shaft and lining the shaft to prevent leakage. The ground provides the bursting resistance other than at the very top of the shaft. The winches and generators will be contained in the pressurized space so that only electrical cables need to penetrate the pressure vessel walls.
Gravitricity Ltd has several patents in process dating back to 2011.
Energy storage is a vital requirement for making best use of intermittent renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and marine renewables, and to incorporate clean electric vehicles onto the grid.
The International Energy Agency estimates that in order to limit global warming to below 2°C, the capacity of storage connected to the grid worldwide should increase from 140 GW in 2014 to 450 GW by 2050.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance [Global Energy Outlook 2018] has forecast over $600 billion of global spend on energy storage to 2040.
Our technology will provide balancing services on transmission grids as well as appealing to network-constrained users and generators, distribution networks and major power users seeking a reliable, fast response, and long-term means of storing power.
The Gravitricity technology is inherently durable and flexible. Where ever it is deployed it will provide balancing services such as Frequency Response and Reserve to the high voltage transmission grid in the region. It can also be sited at locations where energy storage is particularly required: on constrained distribution grids, behind customer meters, and on micro-grids where the technology can provide long-term system balancing.
On existing grids Gravitricity installations can be considered as long term infrastructure assets that maximise the utility of existing grid hardware. In many situations they can be deployed to minimise or remove altogether the requirement for expensive distribution grid upgrades as demand and supply patterns change.
On emerging grids, Gravitricity systems will significantly reduce the requirement for redundancy in grid hardware. There is very significant opportunity to reduce the cost of rural electrification across the developing world by deploying long-life storage technologies.
Martin Wright, Chairman, has a background in entrepreneurial company development (eg. MCT) Venture Capital, oil and gas and, earlier, as a Seaman Officer in the Royal Navy. Today he is Chairman of both the UK Renewable Energy Association (the main UK trade association for renewable energy) and of Mojo Maritime Ltd, a leading marine installation and operations company focused on marine Renewable Energy.
Peter Fraenkel, Technical Director and inventor, is a chartered mechanical engineer with a background in international energy consultancy and technology development R&D, and he is also a visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh. He was the inventor and Technical Director of Marine Current Turbines, which deployed the world's most successful tidal turbine in Northern Ireland. In 2013 Peter received an MBE for services to Marine Energy.
Charlie Blair, Managing Director, joined Gravitricity in 2015 having been Head of Marine Energy in the Carbon Trust's Innovation Team. He is an experienced commercial leader, delivering millions of pounds of innovation funding, and has 14 years’ experience in clean energy technology innovation. He has supported numerous early-stage technology start-ups ranging from electric vehicles through to biomass heating. Charlie is a fellow of the Energy Institute and member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
Miles Franklin, Lead Engineer, is a chartered mechanical engineer with 7 years experience in new technology innovation from a number of fields, including novel borehole drilling machines in West Africa and new product development at Dyson. Miles leads the engineering team in Edinburgh, which also works with partner engineers at Huisman, the Edinburgh University Institute for Energy Systems, and various external contractors.
Edmund Papworth, Finance Director, is a Chartered Accountant and joined Gravitricity in 2018. He has worked within project finance and infrastructure investment for over 20 years with a particular focus on renewable energy assets. He has delivered projects in the UK and abroad working for the private and public sector across domestic and commercial solar, heat networks and wind.
Richard Montague, Chief Technical Advisor, is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and joined Gravitricity in December 2018. He has worked for most of his career in the marine renewables industry, developing devices for both wave and tidal power companies. He has played a leading role in taking some of that sector’s highest-profile projects from early concepts through to product delivery.
Chris Yendell, Project Manager, is a mechanical engineer with 9 years of experience in renewable energy project development. Having worked both on the consultant and the developer side, he has successfully delivered numerous consented onshore wind, solar and hydro power projects to the point of financial close. Chris is currently responsible for the strategic management of project development activities for Gravitricity’s demonstration and full scale sites.
Kim Faull, Mechanical Engineer, is an IMechE chartered engineer who joined Gravitricity in June 2019. She is an experienced design engineer having spent 5 years designing subsea technology for the oil and gas industry, from concept design to supporting new products into service offshore. Kim is currently responsible for the design work on Gravitricity’s 250kW concept demonstrator.
We are growing our engineering and commercial teams as we prepare to build our 250kW Concept Demo and 4MW full scale prototype.
We are actively trying to build a dynamic, diverse team so we'd like to hear from anyone who's passionate about what we're doing. If you are interested in any of the following roles please email as below, with a covering letter explaining why you are keen to join us. All jobs are in Edinburgh and are full-time roles (though any employees who want to are encouraged to work a 4-day week.)
- Senior Mechanical Engineer (>5 years experience)
- Project / Site Engineer (>2 years hands on experience)
Click on the link for full job description and application process.
03 June 2019
Gravitricity's MD Charlie Blair is speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit
Charlie is speaking on energy access and green finance at the event in the Hague.
Here is Charlie giving an elevator pitch on Gravitricity at the event. Click the image to see the video.
01 May 2019
Gravitricity is the Cover story in Professional Engineering magazine, the magazine of the IMechE.
01 September 2018
Gravitricity explainer animation released.
24 April 2018
Imperial College Analsysis suggests early Gravitricity projects will be cheaper than lithium for frequency response applications.
A report by independent analysts at Imperial College London predicts that Gravitricity’s gravity-fed energy storage system may offer a better long-term cost of energy storage than batteries or other alternatives – particularly in grid balancing and rapid frequency response services.
Gravitricity's first-of-a-kind 4MW prototype system will be cheaper than batteries on a levelised cost of storage basis. The modelling emphasizes the importance of long life and lack of degredation for revenue stacking.
09 April 2018:
Gravitricity shortlisted for UK's Renewable Energy Association Innovation award and Lead Engineer Miles Franklin nominated for Scottish Renwables young Professionals award
REA shortlist here
Scottish Renewables Shortlist here
21 March 2018:
Gravitricity teams up with worldwide lifting, drilling and subsea specialists Huisman to build prototype energy store
Gravitricity has teamed up with worldwide lifting, drilling and subsea specialists Huisman to develop the 250kW Concept Demonstrator. Dutch-based Huisman Equipment BV are a perfect winch partner for Gravitricity and form the centre-piece of the Industrail Consortium being built to take the technology to market. They will supply winch-drive modules for the 4MW full-scale prototype planned for 2019-20, and future systems.
07 February 2018:
Gravitricity awarded £650,000 funding from Innovate UK's Infrastructure Systems Innovation competition.
This innovation funding will be used to design and build our 250kW concept demonstrator, ready for testing in late 2018. The project will be completed in collaboration with our international winch partner and with controls engineers Industrial Systems & Controls in Glasgow. It will confirm Gravitricity's commercial characteristics, validate our simulations, and provide a physical proof-of-concept demonstration. During 2018 the company will also develop the site and engineering designs for the full-scale prototype, planned for a UK mineshaft in 2019-20.
Gravitricity is now raising seed funding to match the grant and would like to speak to potential investors, particularly those with power systems or mining experience.
Plenty of press pick up:
19 December 2017:
Gravitricity selected to present at CleanTech Innovate Showcase
Gravitricity ltd has been selected for the prestigious Cleantech Innovate Investor Showcase in March 2018. Charlie Blair will be presenting details of the 250kW Concept Demonstrator and the associated investment proposition. This adds to a list of showcasing and pitching events that Gravitricity has attended in 2017, including the Greentech Challenge, Clean & Cool, and Rushlight.
See https://www.cleantechinnovate.... for a list of 2018 finalists.
10 December 2017:
Levelised cost of Storage in the spotlight
Lazards have published Version 3 of their Levelised Cost of Storage benchmarking analysis. This time the financial advisory firm have included capex and operating data from numerous new Lithium Ion batteries deployed since Version 1 in 2015.
The report can be accessed directly at https://www.lazard.com/perspec... . Lazards report various use-cases where Energy Storage projects are now cost effective, primarily behind-the-meter industrial applications and grid-support applications such as Dynamic or ‘Enhanced’ Frequency Response. Both of these require high-power and rapid response and are of interest to Gravitricity.
Gravitricity has worked with experts from Imperial College London to understand how our storage costs compare. Our fast-response, multi-cycle technology is exceptionally well suited for any application requiring a high c-rate and several daily cycles. As expected, our levelized cost of energy is lower than lithium ion and any other technology in the Lazard’s report for the applications we are targeting.
Commentators have taken the opportunity to read between the lines of Lazard’s report. Greentech Media’s observations on lithium-ion round trip efficiency are well worth a read. https://www.greentechmedia.com...
Gravitricity is working with Imperial College Storage Labs to understand how our costs compare to other technologies. Results are very encouraging.
27 November 2017:
Charlie Blair will be speaking at Energy Storage & Connected Systems in London, February 2018
Gravitricity will be presenting at the REA supported conference at London's Oplympia on 6th February 2018. He'll be speaking in the late morning session fittingly titled 'Scaling to GW; It's not just Lithium' along with speakers from flow-battery, CAES and electrolyser technology developers.
Conference programme is available here
25 May 2017:
Charlie Blair has been selected as one of Britain's leading cleantech entrepreneurs and will be traveling to Silicon Valley as part of the Clean&Cool mission.
Clean & Cool is a UK Government supported mission for British CleanTech innovators to San Fransisco. Gravitricity has been selected as one of the most exciting clean technology innovations coming out of the UK and will be showcased to investors and potential partners in America's capital of innovation from 10th - 17th June 2017.