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ARES Nevada engineering innovative train-powered storage project

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Essential Energy Insights - September 2021


ARES Nevada engineering innovative train-powered storage project

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

AdvancedRail Energy Storage, or ARES Nevada LLC, wants permission to build 230-kV transmissionlines and other facilities to support its energy storage project planned near CarpenterCanyon in the desert outside Pahrump, Nev., according to a March 25 with the Public Utilities Commissionof Nevada.

The projectwould consist of a 6-mile long rail corridor on which locomotives connected to weightedtrain cars would run. The locomotives would use electricity from local co-opValley Electric Association Inc.to climb uphill at times when power prices are low. Then, at times when energy ismost needed on the electric grid, the locomotives can be released. As they falldownhill at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, their motors act as generators, producing12.5 MWh of fast-response energy storage. The system will be able to respond todirect commands from the CaliforniaISO.

The estimated project costs are $55 million, according to ARES'website. Valley Electric became interestedin 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 acresof 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 noticeto proceed from the BLM is expected in June 2017.

A somewhat similar idea was implemented several years ago ata Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, or SEPTA, station in Philadelphia.That project, masterminded by Philadelphia energy software company , used batteries tocapture the energy generated as subway trains brake, storing that energy for lateruse on the grid. In January, SEPTA announced that pilot project would be expandedto an 8.75-MW battery storage network at seven SEPTA substations. An subsidiary owns andoperates the batteries, while Viridity bids the energy into the market as frequencyregulation resources, according to a SEPTA statement.