Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Gravity-Operated Electricity Generation from Defunct Mines


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Utilizing defunct mines for RE generation


Central idea: Green Gravity is an Australian renewable energy company that has developed a unique scheme to generate electricity. The company’s plan involves using defunct mines, such as the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) in Karnataka, India, to produce reliable and cost-effective renewable energy.

The breakthrough: Gravity-Operated Weighted Blocks

  • It uses a weighted block of up to 40 tonnes up to the top of a mine shaft using renewable power during the day when it is available.
  • When backup power is required, the heavy block will fall under gravity, powering a generator via a connected shaft or rotor.
  • The depth to which the block falls can be determined via a braking system, giving control over the amount of power produced.

Comparison to Pumped Hydropower Storage

  • Green Gravity’s approach is similar to the well-established approach of “pumped hydropower” storage.
  • In this approach, water is pumped upstream electrically into a reservoir and released downhill to move a turbine and produce electricity when needed.

Need for such technology

  • Renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, often faces the challenge of being unreliable during nights or windless days.
  • Charging a battery for backup power is very expensive and inefficient.

Advantages of Weighted Blocks over Water

  • Using weighted blocks instead of water means that decommissioned mines can be put to use, and the environmental costs and challenges of moving water up can be avoided.
  • This approach can also mean less reliance on coal-produced power and access to reliable power.

Potential Use in KGF

  • The Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka, India, is an iconic but defunct gold mine that has the potential to be used for renewable energy production.
  • The weighted block apparatus could produce up to thousands of megawatt-hours of power from the mine’s deep shafts, some of which run nearly 3,000 metres.


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