Beacon Power, NYSERDA Sign $2 M Contract for Flywheel Plant

A 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.

Beacon Power Corporation of Tyngsboro, Mass., a product design and development company, has signed a $2 million contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

NYSERDA will provide partial funding for critical grid infrastructure elements at Beacon’s 20 MW frequency regulation plant in Stephentown, N.Y., including interconnection components to allow the plant to interface with the New York power grid. It will also fund certain other project aspects, including a visitor information center to be built at the Stephentown site.

“NYSERDA is one of the most innovative and forward-looking energy organizations in the country,” said Bill Capp, Beacon president and chief executive officer. “Starting more than five years ago when we began working together to demonstrate that flywheel energy storage could provide clean, responsive frequency regulation, right up to today’s significant funding agreement for Stephentown, NYSERDA has recognized the efficiency and value that our technology can bring to the state and its electricity users.”

Beacon first demonstrated how its flywheel technology could respond to grid frequency regulation control signals in New York with a small-scale energy storage project in Amsterdam that was partially funded by NYSERDA in 2006. The company broke ground at the Stephentown site in November 2009, after the project earned approval from the New York State Public Service Commission, the New York Independent System Operator, and the local planning board.

Frequency regulation is an essential grid service that is performed by maintaining a tight 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, thus helping to maintain proper electricity frequency (60 cycles/second).

The flywheel plant also will 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 carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions or other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide or sulfur dioxide.

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