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Could Rail Help Solve the Grid Problem?

The U.S. railway system may be a solution to serious energy problems, according to ENERGYWIRE’s E&E News (subscription).

What’s going on: During extreme weather events, “trains could dispatch batteries across the country, preventing blackouts without expensive new energy infrastructure,” according to a new Department of Energy study cited by the news source.

  • The fix would be less expensive than constructing either new transmission infrastructure or standalone battery storage for extreme-weather occurrences, researchers found.

Why it’s important: Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. is at risk of blackouts this summer, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warned recently.

Power by rail: Just one train could carry enough battery storage to supply 50,000 households with energy for 12 hours, researchers found.

  • “The reach of the country’s 140,000-mile rail network also makes it attractive from a grid perspective, since it extends into dense population centers and transmission-congested regions. That reach has already prompted DOE to identify rail rights-of-way as potential hot spots for a transmission buildout.”

However … While mobile battery storage looks promising, it needs further exploration on a larger scale, one source told E&E News.

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