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Fig. 1. Abandoned mines can serve as reservoirs for “green hydropower batteries”. Photo: Voith

Voith Hydro and Swedish Mine Storage enter development partnership for the advancement of decarbonization

Voith Hydro,Heidenheim/Germany, a leading global supplier of hydropower and pumped storage equipment, and Swedish company Mine Storage, a specialist in the field of underground pumped storage concepts, announce a development partnership to become the forerunners in a new market for underground pumped storage – offering so-called mine storages (Figure 1).

The Paris Climate Agreement has made clear that to prevent a global climate collapse, global warming needs to be limited to maximum 1.5 °C. To achieve this, it is necessary to focus on the use of clean, renewable and resource-conserving technologies in energy generation. Hence, there is a need for transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon and sustainable alternatives, a move that Voith Hydro and Mine Storage aim to help facilitate.

For the global phase-out of fossil fuels, large-scale electricity storage is needed. More than 90 % of energy storage today is provided by pumped storage hydropower, as it allows for quick response with incomparable flexibility to fluctuations in energy demand. This enables the integration of volatile renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, into the grid and stabilizes it. With the current stage of technology, it is the only possibility to store energy in an economically viable, large-scale way.

Mine Storage focuses on the rapidly emerging market for large-scale, fast-responding energy storage and plans to build sustainable pumped storage facilities in underground mines. These are called mine storages and can act as “batteries” that help balance the electric grid so that much more production from wind and solar energy can be added without creating a volatile electric grid that is prone to blackouts. There are more than 1 M abandoned mines in the world, and with mature, proven energy storage technology, mine storages can be a game changer for the environment.

Replicating traditional pumped storage with upper and lower reservoirs in a new setting, like underground mines, can truly accelerate the transition from brown to green energy. The mining environment, however, puts new demands on the technology, thus the challenge lies in combining industry-specific knowledge from different fields.

Voith Hydro has long been in the forefront of technology development and will take on these specific challenges. In collaboration with Mine Storage, the company is now engaged in the early project development at two specific sites in Sweden in order to develop the necessary technical solutions.

”We are committed to sustainable technologies and concepts for a decarbonized future. As Mine Storage has shown an innovative approach, impressive speed and competence in this field, we are delighted to now bring in our long-standing expertise in pumped storage technology in order to develop first projects together,” says Uwe Wehnhardt, President & CEO Voith Hydro.

“Mine storages can have a huge impact on global CO2 emissions by enabling renewable energy production to scale. We do not have time to wait; we must act now,” says Thomas Johansson, CEO of Mine Storage. “Voith Hydro has shown a great flexibility and good understanding for the dynamics in early project development. Their approach and our shared vision of the global potential for mine storages make this partnership a valuable piece in our strategy to contribute to the phase-out of fossil fuels.” (Voith/Si.)