DEC. 8, 2021 — An international consortium led by Swedish grid-scale energy storage company Mine Storage has been granted Vinnova funding to finalize the blueprint for what could be the world’s first commercial underground mine storage facility, indicating increased interest in the potential of using abandoned mines for energy storage.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to team up with such competent partners to create a blueprint for what could be the first commercial underground mine storage facility in the world, and it feels natural to do it in an energy and mining nation such as Sweden. The grant from Vinnova/Swedish Mining Innovation is a clear indication of the increased interest in the global potential of using abandoned mines for energy storage,” says Thomas Johansson, Co-Founder and CEO of Mine Storage.

Global trends such as the rapidly growing share of sustainable but intermittent power sources such as wind and solar, the rapid electrification and the volatile energy price situation all point in one direction: the world needs to store produced energy and control the energy supply to a much greater extent than today. The most efficient way is pumped storage hydropower, but most countries lack the height differences required in the landscape for storage facilities above ground. This is where mine storage comes in.

“Many countries have thousands of abandoned underground mines, meaning mine storage facilities can fill a big gap in solving the energy storage and distribution dilemma. In other words, the mining industry could become an important player in the energy field. Creating cross-sectional projects such as this is a great opportunity for all parties, including society as a whole,” says Stefan Sädbom, Senior Exploration Geologist with 35 years of working in the mining and metals industry and advisor to Mine Storage.

Given the scale and complexity of building a pumped storage hydropower plant in an abandoned mine, connecting it to the power grid and managing supply and demand on the volatile energy market, setting up a mine storage facility is an enormous undertaking. Mine Storage has come a long way in mapping out the requirements and prerequisites, and this knowledge will now be refined and documented in the blueprint.

The consortium consists of mining companies Boliden and Lovisagruvan, energy company Mälarenergi, hydropower equipment manufacturer Voith Hydro and engineering and design company AFRY. Under direction of Mine Storage, the consortium will join forces to compile a complete blueprint for setting up a commercial mine storage facility in the historical mining area of Bergslagen in Sweden, including all the steps in the process from initial landowner and authority approval, to a grid-connected energy storage and supply facility.