First US commercial-scale rail energy storage project approved

By Jodi Delapaz

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WASHINGTON, May 5, 2016 - Advanced Rail Energy Storage's (ARES) commercial-scale gravity-based rail energy storage project has been granted a right-of-way lease by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after an Environmental Assessment and Biological Opinion found the project would have no significant impact.

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The 50-megawatt ARES project will encompass 106 acres of public land in southern Nevada near Pahrump in Clark and Nye counties and help stabilize the western electric grid, providing a wide range of ancillary services that enable the grid to adjust to momentary changes in demand.

ARES Nevada uses gravity to store energy and release it when it's needed. Using a single railroad track sited on a gentle grade, multiple electric locomotive cars move up the track as they receive excess power from solar and wind power plants during sunny and windy days. When needed, the train cars will be dispatched slowly downhill, using their motor-generators to return power to the grid. 

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“Creative solutions like ARES Nevada provide a more reliable and modern electric grid and help create an even cleaner energy future for our citizens,” says Angie Dykema, director of the Nevada Governor's Office of Energy.

The project will provide 100 to 125 full-time local jobs during an eight month construction phase, says the company, which anticipates 16 full-time positions once in operation. The project is expected to provide energy for 40 years or more with only routine maintenance.

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