University of Oulu

Hunt JD, Zakeri B, Jurasz J, Tong W, Dąbek PB, Brandão R, Patro ER, Đurin B, Filho WL, Wada Y, et al. Underground Gravity Energy Storage: A Solution for Long-Term Energy Storage. Energies. 2023; 16(2):825.

Underground gravity energy storage : a solution for long-term energy storage

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Author: Hunt, Julian David1; Zakeri, Behnam1; Jurasz, Jakub2;
Organizations: 1International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
2Faculty of Environmental Engineering, Wrocław University of Science and Technology, 50-370 Wrocław, Poland
3School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, North China Electric Power University, Beijing 102206, China
4Institute of Environmental Protection and Development, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-375 Wrocław, Poland
5Electric Sector Study Group, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 21941-901, Brazil
6Water, Energy, and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
7Department of Civil Engineering, University North, 48000 Koprivnica, Croatia
8Faculty of Life Sciences, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, 20999 Hamburg, Germany
9Center for Desert Agriculture, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, East Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 8.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-15


Low-carbon energy transitions taking place worldwide are primarily driven by the integration of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. These variable renewable energy (VRE) sources require energy storage options to match energy demand reliably at different time scales. This article suggests using a gravitational-based energy storage method by making use of decommissioned underground mines as storage reservoirs, using a vertical shaft and electric motor/generators for lifting and dumping large volumes of sand. The proposed technology, called Underground Gravity Energy Storage (UGES), can discharge electricity by lowering large volumes of sand into an underground mine through the mine shaft. When there is excess electrical energy in the grid, UGES can store electricity by elevating sand from the mine and depositing it in upper storage sites on top of the mine. Unlike battery energy storage, the energy storage medium of UGES is sand, which means the self-discharge rate of the system is zero, enabling ultra-long energy storage times. Furthermore, the use of sand as storage media alleviates any risk for contaminating underground water resources as opposed to an underground pumped hydro storage alternative. UGES offers weekly to pluriannual energy storage cycles with energy storage investment costs of about 1 to 10 USD/kWh. The technology is estimated to have a global energy storage potential of 7 to 70 TWh and can support sustainable development, mainly by providing seasonal energy storage services.

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Series: Energies
ISSN: 1996-1073
ISSN-E: 1996-1073
ISSN-L: 1996-1073
Volume: 16
Issue: 2
Article number: 825
DOI: 10.3390/en16020825
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
218 Environmental engineering
511 Economics
212 Civil and construction engineering
Funding: Funding from the State Grid Brazil Holdings via the Brazilian Agency of Electric Energy R&D program. Project title: “Framework Development for Pumped Storage Hydro Power Projects”. Funding number: PD-05018-0120/2020.
Copyright information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (