Beacon Power Connects Flywheel Energy Storage System to California Wind Farm

The system is part of a wind power / flywheel demonstration project being carried out for the California Energy Commission. The primary goal of the project is to demonstrate that advanced control technology with energy storage can help expand the delivery of wind energy by effectively increasing the capacity of constrained transmission facilities in the area.

Tehachapi, California, is a high-potential wind resource area where, according to a report from the California ISO, up to 4,200 megawatts of wind turbines may be added in the coming years.

"Successfully integrating renewable energy onto the grid is one of California’s top energy priorities. As California builds the infrastructure to achieve 33 percent renewable energy resources by 2020, this research will be important in operating the transmission grid with more renewables in the future," said Energy Commissioner Jeffrey Byron.

"In collaboration with the Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, California ISO, and PG&E, Beacon Power completed a successful research project and field demonstration on the value of energy storage for maintaining reliability on the grid. It helped us better understand the communications and system control issues associated with integrating energy storage onto California’s electrical grid," said Byron.

"This is the first Gen 4 flywheel that we’ve shipped, installed and operated outside of Beacon’s facility, and it went very smoothly," said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. "It’s also the first of our systems intended to show how energy storage can help optimize the output of a wind farm. We’re pleased with the continuing good relationship we have with the California Energy Commission and the California ISO as they address the challenges of deploying intermittent renewable energy resources."

The project will incorporate "intelligent agent" controls and Beacon’s flywheel energy storage technology to demonstrate how to enable as much wind-generated electricity to be delivered as possible without exceeding the limits of the locally constrained transmission system. Energy storage and intelligent agent control technology have been identified as key elements of the Smart Grid, a U.S. DOE-funded and industry-supported initiative to modernize the country’s electrical transmission systems and make possible more efficient delivery of power, along with a more flexible, robust, and reliable grid.

Under the scope of this project the Smart Energyâ„¢ 25 flywheel will normally provide frequency regulation. However, during times when the local sub-transmission line becomes constrained due to lack of reactive power or thermal overload, intelligent agents will override the regulation function and direct the flywheel to take action that in a full-scale commercial system would help alleviate the constraint. Once the constraint is resolved, the system will return to its primary function of performing frequency regulation. In this way the project will provide proof of concept of how flywheel energy storage can deliver additional value to a grid operator beyond its main function of frequency regulation.

In addition to the California Energy Commission, which is funding the project, and Alternative Energy Systems Consulting (AESC), the prime contractor, other leading stakeholders include the California Independent System Operator (ISO) and Southern California Edison.

Beacon Power Corporation designs, develops and is commercializing advanced products and services to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation. Beacon’s Smart Energy Matrixâ„¢, now in production, is a non-polluting, megawatt-scale, utility-grade, flywheel-based solution designed to provide less expensive, and more sustainable and effective frequency regulation services to the nation’s power grid. The Company’s business strategy is both to supply frequency regulation services from its own plants and to sell systems directly to utilities or grid operators in parts of North America and selected international markets. Beacon is a publicly traded company with its research, development and manufacturing facility in the U.S.

Alternative Energy Systems Consulting, Inc. (AESC) provides high quality energy engineering and management consulting services to enable rapid deployment of efficient, cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly energy systems. AESC’s customized technical solutions and services are provided to utilities, government agencies, and corporations that seek to improve energy production, delivery, and end use. The company’s development efforts include intelligent software agent technology, customized Visual Basic (VB), Excel, Access and SQL Server interface applications, as well as custom Java-based applications for interactive data display. AESC is a privately held company with four California offices located in San Diego, Carlsbad, Concord and Pasadena.