Energy Efficiency, Grid Scale, Storage

Beacon Power Connects 1-MW Flywheel System To New England Grid

Beacon Power Corporation has completed the connection of a second megawatt (MW) of flywheel energy storage to the New England power grid. This new system, which is already producing revenue by providing frequency regulation services, doubles the energy storage capacity now in operation at Beacon’s Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, headquarters.

Beacon’s first 1-MW Smart Energy Matrix flywheel system has been absorbing and injecting electricity to provide frequency regulation services on the ISO New England grid since November 2008. In the second quarter of this year, the company realized significantly lower operating costs for this system, when ISO New England and the local utility, National Grid, changed how National Grid charges Beacon for electricity. The second MW system will also benefit from this cost reduction.

Beacon expects to have up to 5 MW of flywheel energy storage capacity installed by year-end. The company projects that the systems running at its Tyngsboro headquarters will generate positive gross margins from the provision of frequency regulation services.

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) notified Beacon Power that its application for a loan guarantee to help finance construction of the company’s first 20 MW plant was approved, resulting in a conditional DOE loan guarantee commitment for $43 million.

Before the loan can be closed, DOE’s offer is subject to negotiation and completion of a number of contracts and conditions. Beacon is now exploring various options for funding the equity portion of the planned Stephentown, New York, plant.

Of the $25.8 million of required Beacon equity for the project, more than 50% is expected to come from “in-kind contribution” of costs the company has already incurred. A significant portion of the in-kind contribution will come from the redeployment of up to 4 MW of energy storage from Tyngsboro to the Stephentown site.

Beacon is looking to break ground on the 20 MW frequency regulation plant in Stephentown later this year. Depending on the outcome of financing discussions and the timing of the DOE loan guarantee closing, full construction of the plant is expected to begin soon thereafter.