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Jun 23, 2016 at 03:38 PM

ARES Nevada engineering innovative train-powered storage project

By Ares North America

Read the complete article here: SNL

By Matthew Bandyk

A project to use the combination of a train, a steep grade and gravity as an innovative form of energy storage is moving forward.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage, or ARES Nevada LLC, wants permission to build 230-kV transmission lines and other facilities to support its energy storage project planned near Carpenter Canyon in the desert outside Pahrump, Nev., according to a March 25 application with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

The project would consist of a 6-mile long rail corridor on which locomotives connected to weighted train cars would run. The locomotives would use electricity from local co-op Valley Electric Association Inc. to climb uphill at times when power prices are low. Then, at times when energy is most needed on the electric grid, the locomotives can be released. As they fall downhill at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, their motors act as generators, producing 12.5 MWh of fast-response energy storage. The system will be able to respond to direct commands from the California ISO.

The estimated project costs are $55 million, according to ARES' website. Valley Electric became interested in the project as a storage solution to backup solar energy.

ARES hopes to begin operating the rail facility in early 2019, according to the application. Since the facility would be built on about 72 acres of land controlled by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, ARES needs approval from the BLM as well. The developer's application said a notice to proceed from the BLM is expected in June 2017.

A somewhat similar idea was implemented several years ago at a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, or SEPTA, station in Philadelphia. That project, masterminded by Philadelphia energy software company Viridity Energy Inc., used batteries to capture the energy generated as subway trains brake, storing that energy for later use on the grid. In January, SEPTA announced that pilot project would be expanded to an 8.75-MW battery storage network at seven SEPTA substations. An Exelon Corp. subsidiary owns and operates the batteries, while Viridity bids the energy into the PJM Interconnection LLC market as frequency regulation resources,

Posted in ARES News.