Beacon Power developing 20-MW flywheel storage plant in Pa.

Beacon Power LLC, a leading manufacturer of grid-scale flywheel energy storage systems, was joined June 21 by various officials at a ceremony in Hazle Township, Pa, signaling the start of flywheel installations and full-scale construction for a 20-MW facility.

“Flywheel systems promise to be an efficient and cost-effective way to provide frequency regulation,” said Imre Gyuk, head of energy storage for the U.S. Department of Energy. “DOE is proud to have taken part in the development of this technology from the very beginning. Flywheels will become an important tool in assuring the resiliency and stability of the grid.”

Attendees at the commencement ceremony witnessed installation of the first of the plant’s 200 flywheel modules. The first 4 MW of energy storage is scheduled to enter commercial operation in the PJM Interconnection system in September, with the full 20-MW plant operational during the second quarter of 2014.

“PJM continues to welcome new technologies that provide diversity to the asset mix in PJM, as well as an opportunity to provide frequency regulation service,” said Terry Boston, CEO and president of PJM. “This will be the first flywheel technology placed into our regulation market.”

Frequency regulation is an essential grid reliability service that is performed to correct short-term unpredictable imbalances in electricity supply and demand, Beacon noted. On the power grid, supply of electricity must match demand to maintain frequency at 60Hz. Beacon’s 20-MW flywheel plant provides frequency regulation services by absorbing electricity from the grid when there is too much, and storing it as kinetic energy. When there is not enough power to meet demand, the flywheels put energy back into the grid. These cycles can occur multiple times in time periods as short as one minute.

Barry Brits, Beacon President and CEO, said: “We are excited to be moving forward with another commercial installation that showcases the performance and durability of our flywheel energy storage systems in providing frequency regulation service. Customers in Pennsylvania and other electricity users in the PJM Interconnection will benefit from greater overall system efficiency and lower costs. In addition, since flywheels recycle surplus electricity to maintain power quality and stability on the grid without burning fuel or producing greenhouse gases, the Hazle facility also contributes to a cleaner environment.”

Beacon Power provides flywheel-based energy storage solutions for large-scale grid-connected facilities and smaller micro-grid and distributed off-grid applications. Services include frequency regulation, voltage support and integrating renewable energy resources. The company has the largest composite flywheel in commercial operation at 25 kWh, and the largest operational grid-tied flywheel energy storage facility at 20 MW, which is located in Stephentown, N.Y. Beacon’s headquarters and manufacturing facility are in Tyngsboro, Mass.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.