Beacon Power Lends Flywheel Hand to Grid

Beacon Power Corp., a company that designs, develops and is commercializing advanced products and services to support a more stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid, has successfully connected and integrated an additional megawatt (MW) of flywheel energy storage on the New England power grid. This brings to 3 MW the total capacity now in operation and earning revenue from frequency-regulation services.

Beacon added the third megawatt as part of a planned expansion of the system that has been providing regulation service to the grid from the company’s Tyngsboro, Mass., headquarters since November 2008. In July 2009, Beacon connected a second megawatt, running separately on a different power line at the same site. Beacon has now successfully integrated multiple megawatts of flywheel energy storage as a system, operating on the same grid connection with unified supervisory software and operational control systems.

“This latest achievement verifies our ability to interconnect, operate and control two 1-MW modules as an integrated subsystem of a full-scale 20-MW plant,” said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. “Our 20-MW plants will be constructed by linking 10 2-MW subsystems together to achieve the full capacity. This ability to expand incrementally using 2-MW building blocks is a key technical element in our plan to build plants quickly and cost-effectively. Our 20-MW facility in Stephentown, N.Y., where construction has already begun, will utilize this same approach.”

Frequency regulation is an essential service that helps balance the flow of electricity on the grid, minimize harmful fluctuations, and maintain proper grid frequency. Beacon’s innovative, fast-response, 20-MW flywheel energy- storage plants will serve as a type of “shock absorber” to the grid. Because of their speed of response, flywheels can address and correct frequency deviations.

The constantly spinning, high-performance flywheels perform this service by speeding up and slowing down as they absorb and inject electricity from and to the grid. This helps keep the frequency of the alternating current (AC) at 60 cycles per second and helps prevent grid instabilities from becoming costly regional outages.

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