Can 19th-century technology solve the energy storage dilemma?

Energy storage is basically a holy grail for the power system community these days.  If we had cost-effective, large-scale energy storage, many of the challenges that go along with incorporating renewable energy into the grid would disappear.  But, we don’t, and the basic feeling is that we need some sort of new idea to get there…

My bet is that if you ask a grade-schooler about how best to store energy, one of the first ideas they’d suggest is to use roll a heavy rock up a hill when you have excess energy and then, when you want energy later, extract it as the rock rolls down the hill…

Over the last few years I’ve been suggesting to folks that this idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds, and it seems that there were others of similar minds! Dave Rutledge recently pointed me to a new energy storage startup called ARES that does essentially that.

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