04 May Achieving Net-Zero Carbon Emissions: Capturing Kinetic Energy on Trains
By Craig Bouchard
President Joe Biden recently publicized the details of his infrastructure bill, which includes record spending on tackling climate change. Much of America’s infrastructure has been neglected for decades, falling behind many other industrialized countries. One issue not included within this new infrastructure bill? A plan for constructing a low-carbon high-speed train network. Not only would this greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the US transportation industry, but would also seamlessly generate and make available a significant amount of clean energy via rolling electric power grids.
Climate issues aside, if we wish to maintain modern standards of living for future generations, we must quickly address the fact that the Earth’s carbon resources are finite and energy consumption rates are growing. Increasingly more erratic weather has uncovered serious power grid issues in various US states, including Texas and California. According to Bloomberg NEF’s New Energy Outlook, “global energy demand will increase 62 percent by 2050.” If this projection becomes true, this growth will make it even more difficult to implement disaster recovery plans, something we aren’t very good at today.
For these reasons, it is critical that Biden’s infrastructure bill incentivise local governments and corporations to leverage the various methods of clean energy generation, such as solar, wind, hydrogen cells and the harvesting of kinetic clean energy from moving vehicles. We must encourage the rest of the world to rethink the fundamentals of what it takes to have a modern and secure power grid. This is a must if we are serious about reaching the G-7 objective of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The transportation sector is the place for governments to focus. All paths to net-zero carbon must traverse through the heavily polluting industries of moving people and goods. This includes cars, trucks, trailers, trains, aero-space, space and marine. Simply put, we must make them all electric. That means finding a way to generate electricity by recycling or harvesting energy from all moving vehicles. That in turn means a lot of batteries. Massive amounts of batteries. And, that will create unintended consequences for the environment.
Visionaries such as Elon Musk understand the severity of this problem, which is why he announced his $100 million dollar carbon capture contest in February. In line with Musk’s likely motivation behind creating his contest, it’s also time to very early on develop a market for second-life EV batteries. Filling up landfills with them is just not going to work.
Ecolution’s MARS technology introduces a brilliant new method for generating clean energy, which can be seamlessly integrated through new global transportation infrastructure; capturing the otherwise wasted kinetic energy. Although this technology can be applied to any form of transportation, the train and subway industries are of particular interest. Commuter rail loses money all over the world and is nearly always subsidized by the local government. Generating clean electricity as the train moves might be enough to convert them to profitability. Diesel freight trains make money, but are big polluters which require large amounts of capital expenditure, without a reasonable accompanying IRR. Local train stations are often empty buildings with a cage where a couple of people work. In recent years some have been gentrified. But it’s a beautiful massive infrastructure waiting for another reason to exist in the eyes of Ecolution. Let’s make them the e-mobility headquarters of their town, where anything can be fast charged or slow charged 24/7. Why stop there? Let’s let the train station power the town. It’s a simple jump from there to just making a large train company with all these assets into something as big as Duke Energy.
According to the Association of American Railroads, in North America alone, there are more than 28,000 locomotives, 1.6 million rail cars and freight rail lines spanning across 140,000 miles. With Ecolution’s MARS technology installed in just 250,000 rail cars – assuming each rail car has a 2.5 MWh storage capacity – we would have the capacity to recycle about 625.0 GWh while also utilizing second-life batteries. This is an unthinkable number. And its a number that will only grow as the technology is applied across the globe. Put in other terms, the TAM (total addressable market) in North America alone for this technology is $ 1 trillion.
Let’s make trains and subways cars into decentralized power plants, capable of disseminating clean energy to neighboring communities. This new system would benefit the smart cities of tomorrow, providing reliable clean energy infrastructure that could have alleviated power grid issues recently in Texas and California, where many had to survive without power for extended periods of time.
One step further into the obvious future is another energy crypto currency. There are several good ones already. Imagine the coin that represents two megawatt hours of electricity conveyed from a train company to a train station, and on into a town or suburb on the track. All middlemen would be removed. The train company would sell energy to the town with municipal pension funds in that town (teachers, Police, firemen) receiving 10% of the coin, which is calculated in the block chain and viewable 24/7 by all participants.
The time to change the world is now and it starts with simultaneously addressing the planet’s energy consumption and power grid issues by incorporating sustainable solutions to decades old infrastructure. For the transportation industries, it’s time to get to work on solving major climate issues and changing your business model. Ecolution is here to help you lead the way.