New York and California to trial demo projects

Beacon Power Corp has won two contracts for its flywheel-based Smart Energy Matrix System Prototypes that will maintain system frequency and grid stability. California’s Energy Commission has awarded a contract to Beacon that will see the company develop and install a demonstration system using flywheel energy storage during the first half of 2005. “Flywheel-stored power could offer the California ISO an alternative to keeping power plants on spinning reserve to balance the system,” said Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld.

The California contract follows a recent joint initiative between the US Department of Energy (DoE) Energy Storage Research Program and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for a flywheel-based system at a site located in Amsterdam, New York. This similar demonstration project will integrate Beacon flywheels and associated power electronics into Niagara Mohawk’s distribution grid.

Both demonstration projects will be one tenth the power of Beacon’s planned MW-level system and are expected to collectively generate approximately $1.9 million of revenue, with the majority of it in 2005.

Beacon Power is teaming with Connected Energy Corp to develop the monitoring and control systems for the new contracts, a move which follows a small, NYSERDA-funded subcontract in late 2004 to improve the reliability of grid-interconnected distributed generation systems. Beacon and Connected Energy are teaming to study the feasibility of incorporating intelligent control systems to provide command and communication between a universal grid interconnect device for distributed generation assets and the grid.

Grid operators purchase frequency regulation services equivalent to 1 or 2% of the energy used. Flywheel technology has the potential to provide a rapid injection of energy for several minutes to help keep the grid stable, for example when a power plant drops off line.