A Beacon Power project in Anchorage, Alaska, will use the company’s flywheel technology combined with electrochemical battery storage to construct a 320 kW system. The project is a pilot to see if it will work in conjunction with renewable forms of energy to counterbalance their periods of intermittency. If it is successful, similar systems could be built and used to support remote utilities along the Alaska Railbelt from the Kenai Peninsula to Fairbanks. Beacon is working with the Chugach Electric Association, a major local utility.
“We’re very pleased to be moving forward with Beacon on this important project to help improve Alaska’s grid and enable more efficient utilization of renewables. Beacon’s flywheel systems have a solid reputation in terms of operating performance, cyclic durability and demanding environments. This hybrid flywheel/battery project is an opportunity to bring proven next-generation technologies that have strong track records elsewhere to our state – and combine them in an innovative way,” explained Paul Risse, Chugach’s Senior VP for Power Supply.
Some of the advantages of flywheels are that they can last over 100,000 full depth of discharge cycles, and have very low maintenance. Adding a flywheel system to a battery pack can improve the battery’s lifespan. The flywheel can be set up to do the heavy lifting for discharging electricity, thereby saving the battery. Combining the technologies can play to each one’s strengths.
Another advantage is safety, the company’s flywheels contain no harmful chemicals and there have been no safety issues with any of their 400 commercially installed flywheels. No hazardous materials are used in their operation, or generated by it.
Beacon Power Corporation was founded in 1997 and by about 2005, the company had developed a grid-scale flywheel system. Currently, this flywheel technology is used in several regional grids within the United States. Beacon’s flywheels are well-suited for renewables integration, grid-balancing, and islands and other remote locations.
Image Credit: Beacon Power