New York’s 20-megawatt flywheel energy storage system is about to go online later this month, to provide extra bursts of electricity for stabilizing the grid. Beacon Power, the project contractor, says it built the world’s largest energy storage in Stephentown, N.Y.. They’ll even host a ceremony at the official launch date, July 12.
The flywheel energy storage system is designed to replace natural gas plants, and is composed of smaller, 1-megawatt units.
We’ve been writing about flywheel energy storage systems for a long time now. For those who haven’t followed the subject, the flywheels that store the energy are made of carbon fiber, levitate on frictionless magnet bearings in a vacuumed environment. They are able to output 1 megawatt of electricity in as little as 15 minutes.
To store energy, the flywheels are spun up to several tens of thousands of revolutions per minute, with coils and magnets having the effect of an electric motor. To extract that energy later on, the system is reversed, and the entire system acts like a car alternator, producing AC current.
This application has the role of regulating the grid frequency, but the DoE, who invested $43 million in Beacon Power, wants to expand the principle to store intermittent power sources such as wind and solar and to replace expensive lithium ion batteries currently used for that purpose.
18 megawatts of storage are already online with the rest of two to come online by the end of June.