First ever gravity green energy storage system set for North Yorkshire town

Plans to create the UK’s first below ground gravity energy storage system have been unveiled in North Yorkshire.

Scottish energy storage firm Gravitricity is to apply to Ryedale District Council with its plan for a facility at East Knapton in Ryedale on the site of the former Knapton gas generator.

If completed, it could store up to four megawatt hours (4MWhs) of electricity – sufficient to power more than 9,000 homes for an hour.

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Gravitricity is developing technologies to store renewable energy by lifting and lowering heavy weights in an underground shaft. The firm believes it can store energy more cheaply and with less environmental impact than batteries. Last summer it successfully demonstrated the technology with an above-ground demonstrator in Edinburgh.

Charlie Blair, Gravitricity’s managing director.Charlie Blair, Gravitricity’s managing director.
Charlie Blair, Gravitricity’s managing director.

In September Gravitricity secured a £912,000 grant from the Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop feasibility plans for a purpose-built below ground system. It has identified Knapton Energy Park, currently owned by Third Energy, as an ideal location for this first-of-a-kind energy store.

The Scots firm has already written to local residents and will hold a public information event on July 13 at Knapton Energy Park, prior to submitting a planning proposal. If the application to Ryedale District Council is successful, this could pave the way to a further BEIS grant to part fund the works.

This project would take place over two years and would involve sinking a purpose-built shaft up to ten metres in diameter and up to 250 metres deep.

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Charlie Blair, Gravitricity’s managing director, said: “Knapton Energy Park is an ideal site for this proposal. The surrounding geology is very stable and there is an existing grid connection at East Knapton. Our technology soaks up excess renewable energy by lifting multiple weights in a shaft – and then releases it by lowering the weights. It stores energy in the same way as a grandfather clock but on a massive scale.

Gravitricity's plan for Ryedale.Gravitricity's plan for Ryedale.
Gravitricity's plan for Ryedale.

“In the future, many of these purpose-built energy stores could be located wherever required, to store renewable energy for use when needed. This would help stabilise the grid and lower consumer costs. If this planning proposal is approved, it will help us raise the public and private funds that would make this demonstration project a reality.

“There are a number of steps in this process. We will submit our feasibility study to BEIS later this year and we hope our application is viewed favourably by Ryedale District Council.”

Third Energy’s operations director Shaun Zabłocki said: “The proposed development is a prime example of how progressive and creative engineering can provide market disrupting solutions to the UK’s energy storage demands.

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“This type of development would be of great benefit to Ryedale, and North Yorkshire, and would really emphasise how the North of the UK is working together to lead the way in this sector.

Gravitricit's plan.Gravitricit's plan.
Gravitricit's plan.

“Third Energy is delighted to be able to provide support to Gravitricity with the proposed development and is excited to be a part of this project.

“The aims of the proposal are consistent with our own strategy of repurposing our Knapton site and other legacy infrastructure into renewable energy generation and storage assets.”

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