Grid-scale battery based on train cars and gravity

in environment on (#1CEAW)
A California start-up named Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) has a clever idea for storing electrical power at the most extreme scales, e.g. those of the power grid itself. It's a battery of sorts. The scheme include a really big hill and a few railroad cars. Energy to be stored in the system is first used to pull the rail cars via electric locomotives to the top of the hill, where it persists as potential energy. So long as the cars are at the top of the hill, the initial energy expended to get them up there remains trapped within the system. To recover that energy, the cars are simply lowered down the hill, turning built-in motor-generators in the process. This power is collected and then returned to the grid. The system is able to recover 80 percent of the power that it takes in, which is better than pumped-storage hydro (due to evaporation) or most batteries.

Earlier this month, ARES won approval from the Bureau of Land Management for a lease of 156 acres in southern Nevada featuring some train tracks on a hill and connectivity to the greater western US power grid. The 50 megawatts facility is not huge (enough to power 15,000 or so homes) but ARES imagines large regional facilities capable of 2 to 3 gigawatts in the future.

Re: So dry (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2016-05-03 03:26 (#1CK09)

The reservoirs used for hydro power are very enviro-friendly indeed; they hugely benefit wildlife,
That's really not true. There's a huge amount of information out there on the environmental damage dams cause, like driving salmon and other species to near-extinction. It's been a cause célèbre in recent years to destroy old and unnecessary dams everywhere that is remotely practical.

"Sierra Club California does not support any proposal that provides funding for the construction of new dams or surface storage in California."

"2014 was a monumental year for dam removal projects. A record-setting 72 dams were removed across 19 states, restoring hundreds of miles of river, and last year’s Patagonia-produced film DamNation raised even more awareness about the environmental impact of defunct dams that block salmon and other fish from their upriver breeding grounds."

Providing big watering-holes for wild life in the Nevada desert is not necessarily an environmental benefit at all. Instead it can bring in more large wild life, which should not naturally be there, which then displaces and kills the native desert species. And destroying dozens or hundreds of square miles of land and habitat by flooding it is never going to be looked on as environmentally friendly. Those kinds of projects tend to be supported by hunters, rather than environmentalists.
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