The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $24-million grant to Beacon Power Corporation. The funds are earmarked for the construction of its second flywheel energy storage plant. The 20 MW storage plant will be located in Chicago, Illinois.
Bill Capp, president and CEO of Beacon, stated that the company is delighted to receive this stimulus grant from the Department of Energy. He further added that DOE has always supported the company’s initiative to adopt cost-saving and sustainable methods of energy storage technology.
The award to Beacon is the fourth largest among the 16 energy storage grants announced by the Department of Energy on 24 November. The company’s first energy storage plant is under construction at Stephentown, New York. Capp stated that the strong support from the department will help the company to expedite the construction and operation of the second plant. This will help the company to evolve from being a service provider to a full-fledged turnkey systems provider in the U.S. and other countries.
The award from DOE will cover 50% of the cost of project and is meant for design, construction, testing and commissioning the plant, as well as providing the PMJ Interconnection (the grid operator) with frequency regulation. This project will also showcase the efficiency of using a fast-response system for achieving flywheel-based frequency regulation in the grid. Using such a system, the reliability of the grid is improved and at the same time, this regulation method allows for increased use of solar and wind power while minimizing construction expenses.
The Beacon’s 20 MW flywheel storage and frequency regulation plant is capable of storing excess electricity from the grid in an array of flywheel systems in the form of kinetic energy. This system will automatically provide energy to the grid when the demand goes up, thus maintaining the frequency (60 cycles/sec) in the grid.
This plant does not consume any fuel unlike fossil fuel-powered frequency regulators. In addition, this environmentally friendly system is suitable for storing power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar systems due to their intermittent nature of power supply.