Former mine shafts in the Illawarra will be studied for their potential to generate renewable electricity.
Wollongong-based energy storage startup Green Gravity has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wollongong resources to explore how Green Gravity's technology could be deployed at up to eight mine shafts in the Illawarra.
These will be at both Wollongong Resources mines in Russell Vale and Wongawilli.
The MoU is the first to be signed between Green Gravity and a local miner, with Green Gravity CEO Mark Swinnerton stating the alignment between the Illawarra's mining heritage and its current energy demands meant the partnership made sense.
"The region has large industrial power demand combined with a rich coal mining history," he said.
The technology works through storing renewable electricity generated during peak production periods and then releasing the electricity when demand is high.
The electricity is fed in from the grid, and released via a mechanical system of pulleys, as weights are dropped into former mine shafts, turning a generator to produce electricity.
Green gravity recently opened a demonstration apparatus in a former BlueScope warehouse in Port Kembla, the first tenant to move into the company's surplus lands.
"The facility enabled accelerated technical research, resulting in the need for site deployment studies. Partnering with Wollongong Resources enables the path to future commercial-scale investments of world-leading technology in Australia," Mr Swinnerton said.
The eight sites selected by Wollongong Resources have the potential to deliver up to 100 megawatts hours of clean energy storage. This is about the size of one of the large, grid scale batteries that are being installed at sites around Australia.
Wollongong Resources, owned by Indian conglomerate Jindal Steel and Power, owns the Russell Vale and Wongawilli coal mines in the Illawarra. Greg Pawley, Wollongong Resources CEO, said the company's goal was to operate sustainably in the Illawarra.
"Wollongong Resources actively explores new technologies as they become available and recognises the crucial role that future technology breakthroughs will play in closing the gap to reducing emissions," he said. "This partnership with Green Gravity represents an exciting opportunity towards closing this gap with world-leading technology in Australia."