Energy Storage Expert Jim Kelly Brings Renewables to Railroads

Energy Storage Expert Jim Kelly Brings Renewables to Railroads

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By William Lamb
Jim Kelly first began pondering the possibilities and limitations of renewables as a senior vice president of transmission and distribution for Southern California Edison. After 38 years with the state’s second-largest utility, he was named CEO of Advanced Rail Energy Storage, or ARES, which developed a system that draws energy from the grid to run weighted rail cars up an incline. When demand spikes, the cars roll downhill and a regenerative braking system generates electricity that is dispatched back to the grid. On the basis of its quarter-scale test facility in California’s Tehachapi Mountains, ARES received its first commercial commission, in 2014, to deliver reliable, renewable energy to Southern California from Nevada by 2017.

How and why did you start thinking about mass-scale energy storage?

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