LaunchPoint News

Grid-Scale Electricity Storage System In Development

Posted on Tue, Oct 6, 2009

Gravity Power LLC, a venture-funded start-up company formerly known as LaunchPoint Innovations LLC, has emerged from stealth mode to announce the development of a revolutionary grid-scale electricity storage system. The company's Gravity Power Module (GPM) exploits the established principles of pumped storage hydropower, but extends them in a new direction to provide greatly expanded applications and utility.

Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is the only large-scale electricity storage technology widely used today, with over 120,000 megawatts of capacity worldwide. However, a new PSH installation typically takes 11-15 years to develop and an investment exceeding a billion dollars before a single watt of power is produced. It also has severe siting limitations due to the need for two large reservoirs at different elevations and the resulting environmental disruption. In contrast, the GPM can be quickly installed underground with virtually no environmental impact.

"We have designed a modular, closed system with a very small footprint that can be sited almost anywhere electricity storage is needed," notes Jim Fiske, founder and CEO of Gravity Power, LLC. "Our combination of proven technologies, such as reversible pump-turbines and shaft construction methods, and ground-breaking system architecture gives us better operating characteristics and economics than conventional pumped storage, compressed air energy storage or batteries."

The company says GPM installations can offset costly and controversial transmission system upgrades, optimize the value of renewable energy sources, and provide a vast array of services to the Smart Grid.

"The GPM will greatly reduce the time-to-market for energy storage because each module can go into service as soon as it's completed, and the installation can be expanded over time to the required capacity. This also provides a vastly shorter time span from initial capital investment to start of revenue", says Chris Grieco, Executive Vice President of Gravity Power, LLC. "We've recruited and have been working with an exceptional group of collaborators in hydropower, construction, engineering, permitting, and renewable energy finance to ensure our success."

"Our recent participation in the Clean Energy Leaders Day in Washington, D.C. with Rep. Lois Capps and other Congressional and local advocates only increased our confidence in the potential for our technology," adds Fiske. "We support the Department of Energy's Smart Grid initiative and have submitted a proposal to build a Gravity Power Module demonstration system right here in Santa Barbara County. At the recent GridWeek 2009 Conference, DOE Secretary Chu discussed pumped storage hydropower as a proven example of the energy storage capability that will be required to increase the rollout of renewable energy generation resources. This is music to our ears."

Gravity Power is currently in discussions with potential strategic partners and will be attending the biennial Electrical Energy Storage Applications and Technology (EESAT) Conference in Seattle, October 4-7, to explore collaborative development opportunities.