A project nearly a full decade in the making, ARES Nevada LLC has finally moved the first shovelful of dirt to kick off construction of its brand new energy storage project, the ARES GravityLine, located right here in the Pahrump Valley, with an official groundbreaking ceremony hosted on Thursday, Oct. 8 in honor of the occasion.
Originally planned to straddle both Nye and Clark counties, with the bulk of the system to be located in Clark, the project was recently redesigned for a more compact footprint on ground that has already been disturbed by construction activities. Rather than building on 106 acres of untouched Bureau of Land Management lands, the ARES GravityLine will now be located at the Gamebird Pit off Highway 160 just west of Carpenter Canyon Road, a gravel mine operated by local company Wulfenstein Construction.
“The 50-MW facility will be able to provide 15 minutes of regulation services at full capacity, supporting renewable energy integration across the Western U.S. ARES GravityLine uses proven rail technology to harness the power of gravity, providing a utility-scale storage solution at a cost that beats batteries,” a news release from Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) North America reads.
As detailed on its website, the project will encompass roughly 20 acres and include a fleet of 210 mass cars, which are essentially train cars situated on a closed set of 10 multi-rail tracks. These cars will act as batteries, providing a storage solution for the electrical grid.
“While GravityLine is well-suited for long-duration storage at utility-scale, the application at Gamebird Pit will be as a regulatory resource providing ancillary services for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO),” the news release states.
When energy generation exceeds the need, the mass cars will draw the excess power off the grid, allowing their drive motors to move the mass cars uphill against the force of gravity. When the grid requires additional energy, the process is reversed, sending the mass cars slowly downhill and allowing their motors to act as generators.
“While we have made significant steps forward in renewable energy generation, it is clear utilities and independent power producers alike need a diversity of energy storage solutions. Cost-effective and scaleable while non-flammable and water-less, ARES GravityLine is that solution,” ARES CEO Howard Trott stated of the project. “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. We are thankful for the tremendous support of the Wulfenstein family, the Nye County Commission and staff who are collaborating closely with us to make this first facility a reality.”
According to the press release, ARES Nevada will strive to use local contractors, manufacturers and suppliers to the greatest extent possible while constructing the GravityLine, and all components will be made right here in the U.S. Construction will also reportedly create approximately 30 direct jobs.
Once all necessary permits have been secured, ARES Nevada is aiming for construction to commence before the end of the year. Potelco, a Quanta Services company, has been selected as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
“I’m pleased a portion of the mine our family has owned and operated since the late 1980s can be reclaimed through a process that benefits the future of energy,” Jim Wulfenstein was quoted as stating. “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.”