Sub Space Energy Hub aims to fast track underground mining electrification

October 3, 2022

A diverse group of companies have come together to develop the Sub Space Energy Hub at the Hagerback Test Gallery in Switzerland to advance the electrification of underground mining and tunneling projects. The group includes Irish company Xerotech, Switzerland-based VersuchsStollen Hagerbach (VSH) as well as Amberg Group, Normet, Motics, Alumina and Fortescue.

The Sub Space Energy Hub will focus on the development of battery electric vehicles for underground operations as well as the development of new energy storage technologies to help communities transition to renewable energy.

“This facility provides a platform to continue pushing the boundaries of our next generation battery technology as we continue to break the limitations of what is possible in terms of non-road mobile machinery electrification,” Dr. Barry Flannery, CEO of Xerotech said in a statement. “This will rapidly benefit our customers who are under increasing pressure to find viable ways to electrify vehicles that at one point were thought to be too big or difficult to convert to electric.”

“Together with the partners like Xerotech, VSH will be transformed into a visionary sustainable and CO2 neutral underground infrastructure where construction and operation of underground space usage will be developed, prototyped and launched,” said Michael Kompatscher, general manager at Hagerbach Test Gallery Ltd. “This will be a model ecosystem of sustainable energy storage and delivery, above and below ground, and how it supports green energy use in future cities.”

Sub Space Energy Hub is finding a way to store renewable energy, such as solar, wind power, geothermal and biogas, so that the peaks and troughs of energy generation can be smoothed out. “There will be more and more renewable energy being generated and we need to be able to store it for off-peak times. The questions is: how do we do that,” said Ross Dimmock, head of tunneling at Normet. Technologies under trial could include compressed air, creating hydrogen from water or pumped storage.

Initially the plan will be to power the Hagerbach facilities underground, from renewable energy sources that could be located above and below ground. Once that has been achieved, the next step could be to power a nearby community too. “With energy storage, the longer-term ambition would be to power the local village so that communities can come to Hagerbach and see a working system,” said Dimmock.

 Photo credit: Xerotech


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