25 March 2024
by Sarah Morgan

Slovenia considers gravity energy storage in a mine

An operational coal mine in Slovenia has become the latest site in mainland Europe to explore underground energy storage.

Velenje Coal Mine © Velenje

The Velenje mine in the northeastern part of Slovenia is currently a fully operational lignite mine, with six working shafts and more than 1,600 employees.

The operators have commissioned a feasibility study to examine how underground gravity energy storage – provided by Edinburgh firm Gravitricity – could offer a low-carbon future as the mine winds down operations in the 2030s.

Gravitricity has developed an energy storage system, known as GraviStore, which raises and lowers heavy weights in underground shafts – to offer lithium-ion batteries and pumped hydro storage.

Velenje follows mine sites in Finland, Germany, and the Czech Republic in exploring gravity energy storage.

Gravitricity engineers have already visited the site to assess the technical feasibility of installing systems in two specific shafts, one of which is a ventilation shaft that may become available for a potential pilot project that could start next year.

Gravitricity is currently fundraising on the Crowdcube platform and has already passed its £500,000 funding target.

Gravitricity Engineering Project Manager Nigel Voaden says, ‘The Velenje mine could be very well suited to future energy storage schemes as the operational shafts are both deep and in excellent condition, and we are grateful to the mine’s operators for commissioning this study. Any future project could offer a new future to many of the hundreds of people who work at the mine today.’

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