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News Channel 3 Las Vegas: Pahrump gravel mine will store energy using carts, rails, and a big hill

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — When most people think of energy storage, they probably think of a rechargeable battery: something that uses electricity to create a chemical reaction, which can later be reversed to power whatever it needs to.

That’s far from the only way to store energy. Soon, a gravel mine located on the southern outskirts of Pahrump will be home to a new energy storage facility — one that uses a method that seems crude, but may just hold the secret to widespread renewable energy storage.Construction has begun on the new energy storage facility (ARES)

The company creating the storage facility, ARES Nevada, calls the process “gravity-powered energy storage,” saying that it converts “electric power to mechanical potential energy.”

That’s a fancy way of saying they’re going to haul heavy things to the top of a big hill and drop them when they need power.

The basic idea has been known at least as far back as the early 1600s, when pendulum clocks used a system of wound-up weights to drive a pendulum back and forth to keep the time.

This new, more-modern use is part of a system that ARES calls “GravityLine.” The company touts its simplicity as an advantage: It doesn’t catch fire, it doesn’t need water, it’s cheap, and it works.

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“The first ARES GravityLine facility and future projects will create much-needed storage capabilities helping to avoid blackouts and shutdowns while keeping power prices affordable,” said ARES CEO Howard Trott.

Using a fleet of 210 carts called “mass cars” on 10 rails, the storage system will use electric motors to haul the carts to the top of a hill. When the electricity is needed, the carts will be sent back downhill, with the electric motors acting as generators while they fall.

The mass cars weigh a combined total of 75,000 tons. ARES Nevada predicts that, when all the carts are uphill, the 50-megawatt facility will be able to provide “15 minutes of regulation services at full capacity.”

On Thursday, the company broke ground on their first facility at the Gamebird Pit, a gravel mine owned by the Wulfenstein family.ARES Nevada, an affiliate of Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES), today announced the groundbreaking for its first GravityLineTM merchant energy storage facility. (ARES)

“I’m pleased a portion of the mine our family has owned and operated since the late 80s can be reclaimed through a process that benefits the future of energy,” said Jim Wulfenstein. “Helping launch a new economic base for Pahrump and the surrounding community while mitigating a global problem, we look forward to working closely with ARES to develop this facility.”