The equivalent of US$2.2 million in funding has been given to an initiative at the University of Sheffield that pertains to energy storage. The energy storage solution being funded could lead to sustainable energy for the railway business. The project is called the TransEnergy project and is collaborating with National Rail, a partnership that will lead to the powering of railways in the United Kingdom.
Reportedly, energy is consumed at a high level during peak hours in the UK, which is enticing engineers into seeing whether or not energy storage is a viable option for these hours. What the engineers are suggesting is that electric cars parked at a train station lend energy to the station. In return, the customers would get free parking for their contribution to the energy generation at the station.
The engineers are confident it will reduce demand for high amounts of energy during the peak hours and in turn gives passengers who park their cars at stations some added benefits.
According to Phys.org a report published by the National Infrastructure Commission on energy storage revealed that if there is assistance with energy storage through contribution, it could save consumers up to £8 billion by the year 2030. As a result, the UK would meet a goal it has for carbon by 2050 and secure UK energy for further generations.
The entire operation is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with assistance from the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton.
To test the sustainability of the project the team of engineers will build a lab that will facilitate testing of energy storage options and how the batteries would assist the powering of trains.
Dr Martin Foster from the University of Sheffield's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, spoke to Phys.org and said, "Similar energy storage systems are already being used on the electricity grid during peak times and by translating these to our railways, we could deliver real benefits to both rail companies and consumers, bringing down the costs of travel and improving services."
James Ambrose, the Principal Engineer for Network Rail said, "Network Rail is committed to electrifying more lines in the UK. Our project will be working with rail providers to recommend new approaches that will mean increased efficiency for the industry."
Should this work and prove sustainable, it could revolutionize the way railways power trains around the world. However, convincing someone to plug their electric car in and use some of its energy storage capability to power a train station might be a tall order.