Flywheel Project Escalates Grid Efficiency

Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that a $43 million loan guarantee has been finalized for Beacon Power Corporation’s 20 megawatt innovative flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, NY.

The plant will help improve the stability and reliability of the state’s electric grid and Beacon estimates it will create 20 construction jobs in New York and 40 permanent jobs in Massachusetts. Beacon Power is an energy storage company headquartered in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

"This project demonstrates our ongoing commitment to helping bring clean technologies to market," said Secretary Chu. "We will continue to support the development and deployment of innovative energy systems like this energy storage project that support our goal of expanding renewable energy generation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"This is truly exciting news for the Rensselaer County and for New York State," said Senator Kristen Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. "It is the continued development of new energy technologies, like the fly-wheel system designed by Beacon Power, that will move our nation forward towards a clean energy economy. This significant investment will create green jobs, spur economic development, and help bring increased energy reliability for New Yorkers."

"As our country seeks to move toward a 21st century clean energy economy, this flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown is exactly the type of innovative new project to get us there. I am pleased to join Secretary Chu in making this announcement and look forward to continuing to work to make our nation energy independent," said Congressman Scott Murphy.

Beacon’s Gen 4 flywheel system is specifically designed to perform frequency regulation on utility grids by absorbing and discharging energy to balance power generation and consumption on the electric grid. The technology operates by using flywheels to quickly store and release from the grid in order to follow rapid changes in grid demand. Flywheel-based regulation is fast and efficient, ramping up or down 10 times faster than ramp rates for conventional fossil fuel generators that typically perform this service.

Beacon estimates that a 20 megawatt flywheel-based frequency regulation plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 82 percent over its 20-year life compared to a coal, gas or pumped hydro plant. The flywheel plant also does not emit air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide or sulfur dioxide.

This is the second loan guarantee announced that will provide significant improvements to New York state’s electrical grid. Last week the Department offered a $17.1 million conditional commitment to AES Storage for a project based in Johnson City.

The Department of Energy has closed or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support 14 clean energy projects, including today’s announcement.

Innovative energy storage projects like the flywheel plant help expand capacity for wind energy generation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.