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Using Flywheels to Meet Peak Power Grid Demands 325

hackertourist writes "A novel type of electricity storage was recently added to the New York power grid. The unit, supplied by Beacon Power, uses flywheels to store energy. This system is intended to replace gas turbines in supplying short-term peaks in power demand (also known as frequency regulation). It can supply up to 20 MW, using 200 flywheels." If you can't afford a 200-flywheel system, you can always get a racetrack-ready Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, which has a single energy-storage flywheel that can give you a 160 HP burst of power when you need a little extra oomph.
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Using Flywheels to Meet Peak Power Grid Demands

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  • Re:New tech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @12:49PM (#36309554) Homepage
    Flywheels aren't new at all...but there was a lot of NIMBY paranoia about flywheels breaking loose and roaming the countryside. I can see how a giant steel cylinder rolling around with a ton of stored energy might be bad, but fail to see how that would occur when mounted underground in concrete with a vertical axis.

    In the case of these things, there seem to be many small ones (less risk if one "escapes") and something tells me that carbon fiber disks that are carefully stabilized and levitated in a vacuum while spinning incredibly fast...would break into a thousand pieces the second they left containment rather than rolling down the street and through someone's house.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @01:03PM (#36309734) Homepage Journal

    They compete with batteries. They are more expensive than crappy dirty ones and cheaper than fancy relatively clean ones. They are made with steel containment vessels and contain a bunch of electromagnets which you and I know as being made of wire. You can check pricing of maglev bearings online. The flywheels are made of carbon fiber so that if they should for some reason contact the housing, which as I recall is about an inch thick steel unit, they shred themselves into cotton candy or confetti or something like that instead of releasing their energy explosively. The various materials they're made of means you can assume they have a fairly high energy cost of production. The units are small enough to be ganged in shipping containers.

  • Re:Gimbals (Score:4, Insightful)

    by david.given ( 6740 ) <> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @01:06PM (#36309764) Homepage Journal
    No --- because the torque you steal from the Earth as you spin them up gets dumped back into the Earth when they spin down again.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @01:08PM (#36309798) Journal
    At present only industrial customers pay different rates for their electricity based on the time of day. Domestic electricity prices are constant all day. There is no incentive for anyone to defer their power consumption to off-peak hours, or to invest in any technology to smoothen out their power consumption curve. If we pay one price for the day time electricity and get a deep discount for the night time electricity, these fly wheel storage devices can be used to soak up energy at night and use it during the day. Since most of the day time power consumption is air conditioning, we could simply make ice/chill water at night and use it to cool the home during the day.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"