Unused coal mines in Ostrava will be getting a new lease on life, transformed into massive electrical storage facilities within the next few years.
Becoming the world’s first gravity power plant, the project is a joint venture between Czech State enterprise Diamo, the Ostrava University and Technology, and the British startup Gravitricity.
Gravitricity chose to partner with the Czech Republic for this project due to the many underutilized coal mines in the East of the country.
The exact location of the gravity power plant is undecided as of yet, but the company’s have highlighted some candidates, all in the Moravian-Silesian region. “We are currently considering several possible locations. At the moment, the most likely one is Darkov”, noted Gravitricity head Charlie Blair.
With a projected cost of over 700 million crowns, the majority of the funding for this project will be provided by Gravitricity, it is intending to acquire additional funding from the European Union’s Innovation Fund.
Blair provided a rough timeline for construction, stating that “Ideally, the plant should be up and running in 2026. If all goes well, we’d like to start up a few more in the country,”
“Of course, the project also has a lot of technical difficulties that will have to be overcome,” Diam director Ludvík Kašpar noted. “So the first step will definitely be the development of a feasibility study. Otherwise, everything is fully under the direction of the Gravitricity company, we primarily provide it with our support and know-how,” adds Kašpar.
The patented technology used by Gravitricity provides a way to store surplus electricity underground through gravitational mechanisms, rather than chemical.
Given that the European Union generates a significant portion of its energy through renewable resources, this method of energy storage proves to be beneficial.
Surplus and deficiency are inherent in renewable resources – such as solar and wind power – as they are highly dependent on fluctuations in weather conditions.
Gratricity believes that its technology could be used to mitigate the fluctuations in energy generated from renewable sources by storing surplus energy to be used during a deficit.
Further, the technology would be a far more environmentally friendly alternative to the widely used lithium-ion batteries. Other benefits would include greater longevity of the battery, lower cost, and reuse of existing infrastructure. The project will also create employment
opportunities in the region, which – after the end of coal mining – sees unemployment rates higher than other regions in the Czech Republic
“We are definitely counting on establishing a branch in the Czech Republic and employing local people. We are also open to cooperation with other entities, with some of whom we are already negotiating with at the moment,” stated Blair.
Prototypes have proven the concept, although experts point out that there is much progress to be made before the technology can see a widespread commercial adoption