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KGET (NBC): Renewable energy company with Kern County ties breaks ground on Nevada facility

Oct 8, 2020

(KGET) — A renewable energy company that tested a technology storing energy using tracks and rail cars in Kern County broke ground in Nevada.

Experts say, one of the biggest challenges to advancing renewable energy adoption in the U.S. has been how to store produced energy that can be tapped into when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage tested its storage teconology in Tehachapi back in 2013: A series of railroad tracks, laid out on a slight incline, tied to the power grid. On the tracks, hundreds of gravel-laden rail cars. Inside each wheel, an electric motor, which also acts as a generator.

When renewable enrgy is available, the electric motors drive the rail cars to the top of the tracks, where they stay parked until needed. When demand for power is still strong, but wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, those rail cars are released. Gravity pulls them down grade and those wheel motors act as electric generators, sending electricity to the power grid. The company patented the technology.

On Thursday, ARES broke ground on its first grid-scale renewable energy storage project in Pahrump, Nevada. When it goes online, the facility will generate up to 50 megawatts of stored renewable electricity — enough to power some 50,000 homes.

The yearlong construction phase of the ARES gravity line facility is set to begin in December.

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