Energy is the only commodity that must be consumed the moment it is produced, and storing it in large quantities remains a challenge. But there are now some promising real-world applications of storage technologies that are poised for adoption across a number of industries.
One of the most interesting is a battery-based system currently in use at SEPTA, the Philadelphia-area transit operator. Based on storage technology from Envitech, which ABB acquired in 2011, the system allows the energy from braking trains to be captured and immediately re-used to power trains as they accelerate. A demonstration unit of the Envitech device is on display this week at Automation & Power World, minus the lithium-ion battery array, which was provided by Saft.
Capturing energy that otherwise would have been lost is great, but what’s even better is that SEPTA is able to use the system to provide frequency regulation services back to the local utility–and get paid to do it. That adds a whole new dimension to “regenerative braking” and makes for a compelling business case.