Beacon Breaks Ground on 20-MW Flywheel Storage Plant

Beacon Power Corporation has officially started construction on the first full-scale 20-megawatt (MW) flywheel frequency regulation plant in New York State. Initial construction work on the plant started this month, including site clearing, adding drainage and fencing, and some landscaping. Full construction is expected to begin in late Q1 2010, and be completed in 16 to 18 months.

“Today’s groundbreaking is a perfect example of federal, state and private investment coming together to ensure that the nation’s first plant of this kind will be built in Stephentown,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This new flywheel frequency regulation plant will advance stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation in the state. I look forward to continuing to work with Beacon Power as they move forward with this investment.”

Frequency regulation is grid service that is performed by maintaining a balance between electricity supply and demand. Beacon’s 20 MW plant has been designed to provide frequency regulation services 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, the flywheels inject energy back into the grid.

Beacon’s flywheel plants will also help support the integration of greater amounts of renewable (but intermittent) wind and solar power resources. 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 NOX or SO2.

“This is a truly significant milestone in our company’s history, and it represents equally important progress toward the development of a smarter grid in New York State and the nation in general,” said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. “Our flywheel systems provide an essential grid-stabilizing service, and they do it faster and much more efficiently than today’s conventional methods, most of which consume fossil fuel and produce harmful CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.”

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