Hyperloop technology has been proposed as an innovative means for intermediate range or intercity travel, used for both passenger and freight transportation with the goals of time-saving, convenience, quality of service and, in some cases, increased energy efficiency. There is also potential for integrating a hyperloop system’s energy storage technologies with variable energy resources.
The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted an analysis on the potential effects of hyperloop systems on the electric grid, as well as on transportation energy demand. In terms of effects on the grid, DOE found that energy and power demands of the system would be significant and would require mitigation strategies. The report describes technologies and alternative designs that could help mitigate grid-related issues imposed by the hyperloop system.
The analysis also found that transporting passengers via hyperloop could result in 20% energy savings for passenger transport compared to other modes such as air or personal vehicle. These savings were calculated using the average fleet efficiency projected to 2030. Such energy savings would be less if compared to today’s “best in class” vehicles, or to a future fleet with higher vehicle utilization (i.e., passengers/vehicle) factors. In addition, hyperloop transport of freight could be less energy-efficient per ton-mile shipped than all other modes of freight transport, except for air. The study estimated that hyperloop freight transport would be 8 times less efficient than transport by water and rail, and at least 3 times less efficient than transport by truck.
The extent to which hyperloop systems may affect overall transportation energy use, under a range of technology penetration scenarios, was found to be relatively small on a national scale.
More details on the analysis’ findings can be found in the full report.