Beacon Power Corporation (Nasdaq:BCON) has finalized a $43 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for an innovative flywheel energy storage project in Stephentown, NY.
The 20 megawatt Flywheel Plant is the latest step by New York State toward improve its electric grid management, and is the first of its kind in the world.
How Beacon Power's Flywheel Energy Storage Works:
Beacon Power's 4 Flywheel Gen plant is designed to optimize frequency regulation -- that is, the tight balance between electrical supply and demand -- by absorbing electricity from the grid when there is too much, and storing it as kinetic energy in a matrix of flywheel systems.
When there is not enough power to meet demand and frequency falls below desired limits, the flywheels inject energy back into the grid, thus helping to maintain proper electricity frequency -- which is 60 cycles per second.
The flywheels also have the ability to recycle electricity efficiently and act as "shock absorbers" to the grid. In turn, this will also help support the integration of greater amounts of renewable (but intermittent) wind and solar power resources.
What This Means:
Unlike conventional fossil fuel-powered generators that provide frequency regulation, flywheel plants will not consume any fuel, nor will they directly produce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions or other air pollutants, such as nitrous oxide or sulfur dioxide.
According to Beacon Power, their flywheels are also far more efficient than conventional methods.
A June 2010 study by KEMA, Inc., found that 30 to 50 MW of fast-response energy storage can be expected to provide the same or greater regulation effect as a 100 MW combustion turbine performing frequency regulation.
KEMA's findings are consistent with empirical data from the flywheel systems that Beacon has been operating since 2008, under ISO New England's pilot program for energy storage-based regulation.
It's a big deal for New York State, whose demand for electricity fluctuates dramatically, from minute-to-minute. It's also another crucial step toward smart grid implementation.
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