Beacon Starts Commercial Operation of Flywheel Frequency Regulation Plant

Massachusetts–based Beacon Power Corp. on Monday said it had energized and grid-interconnected the first 8 MW of flywheel energy storage at its 20-MW frequency regulation plant in Stephentown, N.Y., bringing in the first commercial revenue for the company.

Flywheel energy storage, a grid-scale technology that has shown promise for commercialization, works by accelerating a cylindrical assembly called a rotor, or flywheel, to a very high speed and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy. The energy is converted back by slowing down the flywheel, transforming the flywheel system into a kinetic battery.

Among the technologies’ many uses, it provides frequency regulation, which is an essential grid-stabilizing service that is typically performed by “slower, less-efficient fossil fuel generators,” Beacon Power said.

The company said that interconnection systems between its Stephentown frequency regulation plant and local utility provider NYSEG’s substation are operational to enable the plant (rated 20 MW at full capacity) to come online. “Additional megawatts of energy storage capacity will be progressively energized, thereby increasing the plant’s revenue,” the company said. The entire plant is expected to be connected by April this year.

When completely operational, the Stephentown plant is expected to provide enough power, through its regulation service, to meet 10% of New York State’s typical daily demand.

Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO, said that the interconnection marked a major step in establishing its “merchant plant business throughout the open-bid electricity markets in the U.S. and will accelerate our ability to market and sell turnkey facilities in vertical markets across North America and overseas."

New York ISO president and CEO Stephen G. Whitley applauded the interconnection to the grid. He added that Beacon Power’s investment in the regional grid was because it was the first in the nation to implement federally approved energy storage market rules.

Beacon Power developed the energy storage facility with $2 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Founded in 1997, Beacon Power has also received a $43 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department.

The plant is expected to generate $6 million a year for the company.

Sources: POWERnews, Beacon Power

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