- Published: 14 May 2015 14 May 2015
The construction of a huge underground maglev-style floating railway will make it possible to store 10% of the Netherlands' daily energy needs in the form of kinetic energy. This Energy Train can compensate for peaks and troughs in the supply and demand of wind and solar energy at one tenth of the usual costs.
The concept has been devised and developed by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN). The floating railway will cover a circular track with a radius of 2.5 km. In periods when too much wind or solar energy is generated, the surplus electricity is used to set in motion a pure-mass floating maglev train within a vacuum tunnel. It can reach a speed of 2,000 kilometres per hour. In periods when insufficient renewable energy is generated, this kinetic energy can be re-converted into electricity and fed into the grid. This enables 2.5 gigawatts of electricity to be stored for an eight-hour period or 400 megawatts for 48 hours. It can achieve this at a cost price that amounts to just 10% of that of competing technologies that are currently being developed for large-scale energy storage. The cost of a comprehensive system is likely to be between 1 and 2 billion euros. This outlay will ultimately pay for itself as a result of reduced investment in a new electricity grid and high-voltage masts. ECN would now like to form a consortium of knowledge and industrial parties to progress this idea to the stage of proof of concept.