Electrical power systems typically experience large swings in power demand, with relatively low usage during the night and high usage in the daytime. Even during the daytime period, power demand varies widely, with major peaks during the morning and late afternoon.
Existing technologies for electrical power storage are generally too expensive and difficult – (e.g., batteries, flywheels, superconducting energy storage) or too limited in availability of sites (e.g., pumped hydro). To be useful the great majority of peak power demand is supplied by fossil fueled peaking power plants (e.g., gas turbine) or by purchase from distant power grids.
A second, very attractive feature is the completely non-polluting environmentally benign nature of MAPS. This feature, and its ability to substitute for peaking plants that burn fossil fuels and produce pollution, should make it possible to obtain permits and site approval very quickly and easily. Furthermore, since the Maglev guideway would not carry passengers, safety certification would be considerably easier.
MAPS facilities could be erected in a short time, e.g., 3 years or less, to meet increasing peak power demands. The total land use for a 2000 MWH facility, including a dual 3 km long guideway, is only about 20 acres. Most MAPS facilities would be sited in remote areas and would not impact the environment. At the design speed of 130 mph, the vehicles would be virtually silent, with aerodynamic noise below ambient levels.
The MAPS system is very attractive for near term peaking power needs. It is even more attractive for low cost energy storage used in conjunction with solar and wind power generation. The electric outputs from solar or wind power sources are inherently variable and non-predictable.
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