An innovative system in Nevada for generating energy on demand to stabilize the grid when needed will use the railroad equivalent of pumped hydro, which uses excess renewable energy top pump water uphill into a reservoir, where it is released as needed to power turbines. Similarly, surplus power will be used to send a robot train 5.5 miles up a steep grade. When energy is needed, the trains are sent downhill, creating power via the braking system.
As surplus power from such renewable projects comes in, it will be used to push an automated shuttle train up the hill. Then when electricity is needed on the grid, the train will be sent back down the hill, generating power through its braking system as it goes.
“It’s like a Prius,” said Francesca Cava, the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based vice president of operations for ARES.