A super fast floating train, developed by the Energy Research Institute in the Netherlands, can store as much as 10% of the total energy demand of the entire Dutch population in the form of kinetic energy.
There is only one thing that prevents renewable energy from taking over the world completely, and that is the slow and very limited advances in the field of energy storage. Many governments are still hesitant to shut down coal-power and nuclear power plants, simply because renewables are not always reliable, and at one time or another, back up energy is always needed.
A new concept from inventors at the Energy Research Institute (ECN) in the Netherlands, seems to offer quite an innovative and spectacular way to store excess energy, offering a potential solution to the most pressing problem. The technology is nothing quite like anything we have seen before- meet the Energy Train.
The Energy Train is a massive floating railway, Maglev-style, which will travel along a track with a radius of 2.5 kilometers within an underground vacuum tunnel. The machine will run on excess energy generated from wind and solar, and it can reach speeds up to 2,000 km/h. When the renewable energy production is insufficient, the kinetic energy from the train movement will be reconverted and sent to the grid.
The inventors estimated that in a space of eight hours, the system can store as much as 2.5 gigawatt-hours of electricity, while for an extended period of 48 hours, the number drops to 400 megawatts. What is more remarkable, however, is that the cost of this type of energy storage is much lower than any alternatives that are currently available or under development for large-scale energy storage. In fact, the Energy Train can do it for 10% of the price.
The machine will move underground, solely due to its high speed. When it moves at its fastest, it would operate at G-Forces, and it could reach ten times the force of gravity. Unfortunately, this would mean that the price of construction will be very high. The estimated costs come to about 2 billion Euros. Nevertheless, the developers claim that even at that price, the technology is still more cost-effective than any of the current energy storage technologies.
The Energy Train is now progressing towards the proof-of-concept stage. Following heated and long discussions with possible parties, who recognize the potential of such incredibly valuable and needed technology, the guys from ECN are now gathering a consortium of knowledge and industrial parties.
Image (c) ECN