In a disused warehouse in the Port Kembla steelworks, the solution to one of the challenges facing Australia's transition to net zero is taking shape.
Illawarra energy storage start-up Green Gravity will invest $2 million in building a test lab for its gravity energy storage technology.
The lab will be in a disused warehouse in the No. 1 works section of the BlueScope steelworks - on the southern side of Five Islands Road - in a partnership between the ASX-listed company and the Innovation Campus-based enterprise.
Founder and CEO of Green Gravity Mark Swinnerton said the facility would be at the global forefront of energy storage, as countries race to find solutions to store the vast amounts of renewable electricity generated by solar and wind farms during the day for off-peak periods.
"The capital investment committed to the Gravity Lab will enable some of the most advanced gravitational energy storage research in the world," Mr Swinnerton said. "The purpose-built facility, to be located at the Port Kembla steelworks, will be capable of moving 16 separate weighted objects in a sequence to test the capabilities of our technology."
Green Gravity's system proposes to use a system of weights to store renewable energy. Weights would be lifted when renewable energy is cheap, and then dropped when there is demand for electricity, with the movement of the weights creating mechanical electricity.
Construction will begin this month on the structure that will use a 12m high pulley system to test the potential of using weights to store clean energy.
Once complete, the facility will employ three people full-time, and enable the growth of the Green Gravity team to grow to 20 people as the technology comes closer to commercial fruition.
Gravity storage is a relatively new form of energy storage. To date, test facilities have been established in Europe, but no company is yet to fully commercialise the technology.
With its facility in Port Kembla, Green Gravity is hoping to be the first.
Michael Reay, head of corporate affairs at BlueScope said the two companies shared a goal of decarbonisation.
"We recognise that we are going to need an enormous amount of green renewable energy in the transition and are proud to be supporting Green Gravity in helping to bring their innovative solution to life."
The facility will sit within the footprint of lands BlueScope has earmarked for transformation as part of the company's masterplan for 200 hectares of surplus land, led by Danish architecture and design firm Bjarke Ingels Group.
"We are very excited that Green Gravity chose to establish its Gravity Lab here on our site by repurposing one of our industrial-size buildings. It's a great fit and a tangible example of what we are trying to create, a modern hi-tech R&D precinct that builds upon our strengths in advanced manufacturing," Mr Reay said.
Last year, Green Gravity announced it would trial its technology at a decommissioned Cessnock mine, raising and lowering 30 tonne weights in the 400-500 metre-deep mine shafts.
The physical set-up in Port Kembla will be recreated digitally to enable the data generated on site to go into refining the final design for deployment to mine shafts in the Hunter and elsewhere.
Mr Swinnerton has said the company hopes to have a grid-ready system up and running by 2024.