Energy storage start-up Gravitricity has teamed up with worldwide lifting, drilling and subsea specialists Huisman to develop a scale demonstrator of their gravity-fed energy storage system.
The Edinburgh green tech firm has signed an R&D agreement with the Dutch multi-national to develop a 250kW concept demonstrator and test it in the Netherlands and Scotland early next year. Following this they plan to scale up to fully commercial 20 MW systems.
Gravitricity technology uses a massive weight suspended in mine shafts to capture power, and then release it in seconds. In February they received a £650,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, to build their prototype.
The project partners believe Gravitricity can be a strong competitor in the frequency response market, where there is a requirement from grid operators for large, fast and frequent bursts of power to stabilise increasing amounts of renewables on the grid.
Huisman is a global operating company delivering innovative technical solutions to leading companies in the oil & gas, renewables, leisure and civil industries.
“This 250kW prototype will help us validate our simulations about how the technology works in practice and will give us the opportunity to utilise Huisman’s enormous experience in winches and cranes,” says Gravitricity Managing Director Charlie Blair.
“At the same time Huisman and our engineers will begin detailed design of the winch drive modules for our full-size 4MW demonstrator, which will be deployed in a UK mine shaft in 2020.
“Huisman are now a core partner in our industrial consortium, which will enable us to quickly take this technology to market,” Blair says.
Commenting on the agreement, Peter Berting, Business Development Manager at Huisman says: “Gravitricity’s low power cost and high cyclability sets it apart from other technologies. The recent global growth of renewable energy means there is a growing need for grid stabilisation, and their energy storage system plays directly into this market.
“The technology is scalable, easy to install and comes with a long lifetime. Huisman is a very innovative company and we see a great fit between our expertise and this exciting new concept.
“Our ambition is to work with Gravitricity to develop an innovative commercial solution which will make a substantial contribution to grid stabilisation and safe future power supply to all its users,” Berting concludes.
It’s planned the Dutch specialist will build the test module in Holland before shipping it to Scotland where it will be put through its paces at the Power Networks Demonstrator Centre (PNDC) in Cumbernauld.
“We have been working with the PNDC in the design of our test regime, and they will give us vital data on how our technology can provide grid balancing and rapid frequency response services to grid operators,” says Gravitricity lead engineer Miles Franklin.
Gravitricity is also working with Glasgow firm Industrial Systems and Control (ISC) on dynamic simulations and control mechanisms for the Gravitricity system.