Flywheel Energy Storage Puts Beacon on Display

Beacon Power of Massachusetts will install energy storage systems with Independent Systems Operators (ISO) in California and New York to demonstrate the benefits of its flywheel energy storage design. The $1.85 million in contracts with the California Energy Commission and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) call for system installation in the first half of 2005.

“Grid operators require frequency regulation services every day, most of which are provided by conventional fossil-fuel generation,” said Beacon Power President Bill Capp. “The value of regulation services purchased in 2003 by the four U.S. regional grid operators in open power markets exceeded $400 million, and continues to grow.” Beacon power is perhaps best known in the solar industry for their grid-tie inverters, but their flywheel technology is another facet of their energy technology offerigs. Under the contract, Beacon Power will develop and install individual systems for the California and New York sites to demonstrate the potential benefits of using flywheel energy storage to provide frequency regulation of the grid, a service required by all grid operators. A successful demonstration of frequency regulation with the ISO will also serve to demonstrate the system’s technical and market feasibility in the growing grid stabilization market, according to Beacon. “Flywheel-stored power, which has long been in use but not yet for grid applications, could offer the California ISO an alternative to keeping power plants on spinning reserve to balance the system,” said Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld. “When proven viable, the technology can help save the grid operator money on ancillary services.” Grid operators, such as the California ISO, purchase frequency regulation services every day that are equivalent to 1 to 2 percent of the amount of energy used daily. The Beacon flywheel storagae system was designed to address the growing market with better performance and greater cost effectiveness than existing methods. Beacon was selected by Connected Energy Corporation of Rochester, New York for another NYSERDA project to apply flywheel energy storage technology to improve the reliability of grid-interconnected distributed generation systems. Beacon and Connected Energy are teaming to study the feasibility of incorporating intelligent control systems to provide command and communication between a Universal Grid Interconnect Device for distributed generation (DG) assets and the power grid. The goal is to find ways to bring DG systems into compliance with the grid, and potentially support their further deployment and use. “Flywheel technology has the potential to provide a rapid injection of energy for several minutes to help keep the grid stable when we have a contingency — for example, some kind of problem that causes a big power plant to drop off line,” said California ISO Interim Chief Operations Officer Jim Detmers. “By helping out with this demonstration project, the ISO is fostering technology that shows real promise to improve the control and reliability of the grid.” The demonstration will be a one-tenth-power prototype of Beacon’s planned megawatt-level system known as the Smart Energy Matrix, and will integrate Beacon flywheels and associated power electronics into the local distribution grid. The project will also focus on communication with and control of the demonstration-scale system by the California ISO. Beacon Power is teaming with Connected Energy Corporation of Rochester, New York, to develop the intelligent monitoring and control systems that will be used in this California project.
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