Rail Joins Uphill Battle Against Intermittency

A novel way of storing electricity is promising to boost California’s renewable energy industry, and provide a solution to the problem caused by the intermittency of solar and wind energy. Advanced rail energy storage stores excess solar and wind power in a rail yard and utilises gravity to retrieve the energy when required. Here’s how it works: a remotely-controlled train carries concrete blocks weighing multiple tonnes uphill powered by the off-peak electricity. Upon reaching the storage yard at the summit, the train unloads the slabs and travels downhill.

The process is reversed when energy is needed to be fed into the grid.. The train travels uphill and transports the slabs to the lower storage area. Its trip down is powered by gravity, and as the train moves, electricity is transmitted through the specially-built tracks to the grids. It all sounds like an ingenious idea, but the question remains if a grid-scale application of such a technology is commercially and geographically feasible.

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