image of A Swedish Company is Transforming Abandoned Mines

Writer: Staff
September 8, 2023
Discover how a Swedish tech company transforms abandoned mines into renewable energy sources. As the world continues to move towards zero-emission targets, coal mining activities are being reduced in many countries, leading to the closure of numerous mines. However, the story doesn't end there for mine owners. Henrik Boman, C.E.O. of Sustainable Energy Solutions (SENS), explains that mine owners face several problems when their mines close. The closure often happens rapidly, leaving owners, mine operators, and staff without safety nets. The challenge lies in finding a way to give these disused mines a second life. Inadequate regulations in poorer countries mean that many mine owners do nothing, leaving local communities at risk. Tragic incidents like the deaths of 176 children in empty mines in Indonesia between 2014 and 2021 highlight the dangers associated with abandoned mines. Even in wealthier countries, accidents continue to occur, with almost 200 deaths in the United States since 1999, according to the M.H.S.A. Abandoned mines also pose risks such as methane emissions, collapse, and groundwater contamination that can persist for decades. Even when land reclamation uses best environmental practices, it rarely restores the site to its natural wilderness state. SENS, a Swedish tech company, has developed a solution for addressing these challenges. The company has pioneered Underground Pumped Hydro Storage (U.P.H.S.) technology, which converts the water in abandoned mines into a valuable energy storage resource. SENS employs U.P.H.S. technology in closed mine shafts, where turbines are installed. The difference in height between the two reservoirs, along with the water turbine in the mine shaft, generates energy. Boman explains, "Whenever you have a higher reservoir with water, there is energy. When the water is released from the higher reservoir, it generates electricity." Once the water from the mine is partially pumped out, another Swedish company called Clearwell purifies it with a containerized water purification system before safely releasing it into surrounding lakes, rivers, or marshland. Some water is stored above ground in a dam and can be released into the mine shaft with the turbine. While pumped hydro storage has been used in Europe and elsewhere, SENS' technology stands out because it runs entirely on renewable energy. A nearby solar or wind park generates green energy to power the pumps, using compressed air and large batteries to store excess energy for cloudy or rainy days when solar power is unavailable. This self-sufficient system enables the pumps to push the released water from the mine reservoir, over 400 meters underground, to ground level in the dam. The water is continuously cleaned in Clearwell's container. The entire system can also sell excess energy back to electricity companies, helping to balance the grid. SENS recently conducted tests at the Lilla Båtskär iron ore mine below the sea on the Finnish island of Åland, with support from grants provided by the E.U. This success demonstrates the commercial viability of the concept. In addition to battery and solar projects, SENS is collaborating on pumped hydro storage projects in the Rožná uranium mine in the Czech Republic and Spieonkop in South Africa. The company is engaged in discussions with electricity companies, landowners, and local authorities across Sweden, as well as in Africa and Australia. Boman emphasizes that SENS offers mine owners the opportunity for an income stream and the possibility of re-employing mineworkers. The company's collaboration with Axpo, Switzerland's largest producer of renewable energy, further solidifies its position. Axpo has acquired and financed SENS' solar plant and battery storage projects in Filipstad, Sweden, which will make it one of the largest energy storage plants in the country, incorporating U.P.H.S., a solar park, and battery systems. "We have had a bit of a breakthrough with larger companies reaching out to us now," says Boman. "There are several kinds of companies who realize they might need battery storage solutions and larger stores of energy from mines. We can provide energy on a much larger scale than they could alone to enable them to store energy in the water, produce clean water, and sell energy back to the grid as well." MineStocker Inc Kevin Dwyer C.E.O., Head Trader

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