Researchers explore using battery systems in locomotives to support US power grid


Researchers in California are exploring the possibility of using the battery systems in battery-electric locomotives to store power for the U.S. power grid, according to a paper published in the academic journal Nature Energy.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said they explored using batteries as a way to store energy to help address the challenges associated with maintaining reliability amid extreme weather events and intermittent power generation.

The battery systems could serve “as a nationwide backup transmission grid” through which saved power could be shared among regions, meet demand peaks and relieve transmission congestion, according to the researchers.

“Compared to new transmission lines and stationary battery capacity, deploying [rail-based mobile energy storage (RMES)] for such events could save the power sector upwards of US$300 per kW-year [for new transmission lines] and US$85 per kW-year [for stationary battery capacity,” researchers said in the article abstract. “While no known technical barriers exclude RMES from grid participation, addressing interconnection challenges and revising regulatory frameworks is necessary for deployment at scale.”

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