Every so often an item appears in Blowout Week that’s worthy of further discussion, and Blowout Week 118 has one. It’s the article on ARES – Advanced Rail Energy Storage – a simple combination of three proven technologies – railroads, potential energy release and regenerative braking – which reportedly has a number of advantages over its numerous energy storage competitors:
* All it needs is a rail line, heavy rail cars with regenerative braking, and a hill. It needs no reservoirs, pump houses, penstocks, underground cavities, salt mines, submarine bladders or even water.
• Environmental impacts are usually minimal, energy efficiency, costs and ramp rates are reportedly comparable to pumped hydro, there are no limits on the number of charge/discharge cycles and no degradation with time.
• There’s no lack of ARES natural resources (hills) in many parts of the world. Storage capacity can be made as large or as small as needed in these areas.
The ARES concept has been tested at a pilot project in Tehachapi, California. No results are provided but some intriguing images are:
The ARES gravity train used at the Tehachapi, California, pilot plant
So let’s take a closer look at ARES: