Beacon Sees Demand Doubling for Energy-Storage Flywheels

Beacon Power LLC, the energy-storage company that was sold in bankruptcy in 2012, expects to build 40 megawatts of new projects by the end of next year, Chief Executive Officer Barry Brits said in an interview.

That’s double the size of the 20-megawatt project flywheel storage system it completed in Hazle, Pennsylvania, last month, he said. The Tyngsboro, Massachusetts-based company may build 100 megawatts in 2016.

Wider use of renewable power plants, which can ebb and flow as wind and sunshine come and go, is creating demand for Beacon’s storage technology, which regulates energy on the grid.

“Demand is being pulled specifically by additional renewable coming on the grid,” Brits said in an interview today.

Beacon’s systems store power using 2,500-pound (1,100-kilogram) carbon-fiber cylinders rotating as fast as 16,000 times a minute. The kinetic energy can be quickly converted into electricity and transferred to and from the grid to absorb sudden surges in supply or demand.

The systems are getting cheaper as Beacon gets more orders and it reduces costs. “Our next project will have a more than 50 percent reduction on the price of the Hazle facility,” Brits said.

Beacon received a $43 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee to develop the technology and filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Energy private equity firm Rockland Capital LLC purchased Beacon’s assets in 2012.

Beacon operates a 1-megawatt system in Massachusetts that went into operation in 2008 and a 20-megawatt system in New York that was completed in 2011.

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