Power Generation from Subway Trains Moving Forward in Philadelphia, Other Cities
Philadelphia has established itself as the leader in the quest to harness the energy generated by slowing down subway trains, the Associate Press reported on Wednesday. The kinetic energy of a braking subway train has long been converted into electricity that helps power the train or other trains on the rails at the same time, but in those cases, most of the energy is lost. But the pioneer project in the City of Brotherly Love is interested harnessing more, if not all, of that energy and storing it for later use or feeding it back into the city’s power grid. New York’s MTA and transit authorities in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are looking into the possibility as well.
Although the engineering and battery technology required to make the storage and re-routing of the subway energy possible are complex and expensive, the harnessing of that massive amount of energy could save cities millions of dollars in electrical bills.
In Philly, the project will be tested on one subway line and one power substation and, if successful, will be expanded to the rest of the city. The Philadelphia transit authority hopes to save 10 percent on its $22 million annual electricity budget.
As is the case with many renewable and emerging energy technologies, braking subway trains are a huge potential power source that must overcome some serious technical obstacles before becoming fully viable. But with enough ingenuity and investment, those screeching wheels could soon help drive down public transportation costs around the country and around the world.