The world’s energy crisis isn’t getting any better. Energy production using fossil fuel is contaminating our environment, and is the sole source of global climate change. There are plenty of solutions out there, some are practical and others aren’t. Renewable energy sources such as wind and hydro are all viable solutions, but not applicable in all areas.
Elon Musk is making headlines for his battery idea, and rightly so. Storing away electricity for use later in a giant battery is legitimate. However, the technology’s expense might be prohibitive to many people. So what’s another idea for storing unused energy, and then releasing it during a shortage?
One startup thinks it has a solution. Advanced Rail Energy Storage or “ARES” is proposing that we use our planet’s most abundant resources to solve one of our renewable energy problems. Simply put, they want to load up a train with rocks, and when the grid is producing excess energy the train gets pulled up a hill using an electric motor. When there’s a shortage, gravity takes over and the train rumbles down a track and produces electricity with regenerative braking.
ARES’s idea seems simple enough, but don’t mistaken simplicity for affordability. The rock, train and gravity combination will cost more than a few coins. It’ll cost around $55 million just to get things up and going. After that, they’ll have to take into consideration how the project will scale.
ARES CEO James Kelly admits that the 12.5 megawatt-hours the first installation can produce won’t be enough to make money. He did say, however, that the low-tech energy generator will become more efficient on a larger scale (aka they need more investors).