Beacon Power flywheel plant nears initial start-up

Beacon's Stephentown, N.Y., plant features more than 100 composites-intensive flywheels designed to provide fast-response energy storage capability. About 4 MW of the 20-MW facility will be started initially.

Beacon Power Corp. (Tyngsboro, Mass., USA), a provider of fast-response energy storage systems, announced on Dec. 23 that it has made substantial progress toward completion and partial start-up of the 20-MW flywheel frequency regulation plant the company is building in Stephentown, N.Y., USA. The facility is the first of its kind, designed to quickly store and discharge energy from wind, solar and other renewable resources.

More than 10 MW of energy storage capacity (i.e., more than 100 carbon fiber composite flywheels) has been installed and fully tested by Beacon and is ready for grid connection. Of this, 40 flywheels (or 4 MW) have been running successfully in a "virtual" mode, connected to a temporary on-site generator that simulates the grid connection. In addition, all support systems and ancillary hardware for the plant's eventual matrix of 200 flywheels —including control software, power electronics, cooling and other equipment —are in place.

The first 4 MW will be interconnected to the grid when the local utility, NYSEG, completes work on its adjacent electrical substation. The high-voltage wiring to Beacon's plant is in place and all major substation components have been installed. The substation is now in system check-out, testing and commissioning stage.

NYSEG is making an extraordinary effort to finish all remaining tasks as soon as possible, with crews on site seven days a week. Once NYSEG completes its substation, the first 4 MW of energy storage capacity will be connected and begin providing revenue-generating regulation service to the New York grid. Additional megawatts will be brought steadily online, rapidly increasing the plant's frequency regulation capacity and revenue.

"We are very grateful for the excellent support we are receiving from our friends at NYSEG as we finish the last remaining steps before beginning commercial operation," said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. "Once the substation upgrades are complete, our only pacing item to reach full 20 MW capacity utilization will be building and installing the remaining flywheels in Stephentown, as all other associated support systems and infrastructure are already in place."