Repurposing Infrastructure for Gravity Storage using Underground Potential energy (RIGS UP)

Default ARPA-E Project Image

OPEN 2021
Golden, Colorado
Project Term:
07/01/2022 - 06/30/2025

Technology Description:

To create energy storage that addresses Li-ion limitations, the project team has identified an unlikely source: inactive upstream oil and gas (O&G) wells. NREL will repurpose inactive O&G wells to create long-term, inexpensive energy storage. Team member Renewell Energy has invented a method of underground energy storage called Gravity Wells that will give a second life to ~$4 trillion worth of inactive upstream O&G infrastructure and result in the sealing of hundreds of thousands of idle O&G wells currently emitting methane. This will result in an industry-leading levelized cost of storage and mitigation of huge quantities of CO2e. Gravity Wells store and release potential energy by raising and lowering heavy weights in idle wellbores using an ultra-efficient winch and generator system. When electricity prices are low the weight is raised and held to store energy. The weight is lowered to generate power when electricity prices are high. The mechanical, underground, and distributed nature of this technology combine to provide flexible duration and term and insusceptibility to weather, creating the most resilient, reliable energy storage resource available. This technology will be transformational to the energy industry as it will provide the nation’s lowest cost, most flexible, and most GHG-abating energy storage.

Potential Impact:

NREL’s technology can provide the nation’s lowest cost, most flexible, and most greenhouse gas-abating energy storage.


Gravity Wells will create an energy storage solution that meets our nation’s energy needs while vastly decreasing system costs.


The Gravity Well’s downhole seal system will use at least 66% less CO2-intensive cement than the typical plugging and abandoning process and its control equipment will remotely monitor wellbore fluid chemistry and volume, providing the ability to quickly respond to leaks.


The technology is potentially capable of providing more than 40 GWh of extremely low-cost energy storage, saving hundreds of billions of dollars on the deployment of energy storage in the United States.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Dayo Akindipe
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Renewell Energy, Inc.

Related Projects

Release Date: