Beacon Power Demos Smart Energy Matrix System

December 27, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

Beacon Power Corp. was featured in a press briefing organized in collaboration with the California Independent System Operator (ISO) on December 6th at a PG&E facility in San Ramon, California. Beacon demonstrated the performance of its scale-power Smart Energy Matrix.

"This was a great opportunity to share the story of Beacon's flywheel technology, and the promise it holds for making California's power grid more reliable," said Bill Capp, Beacon Power president and CEO. "We are pleased to see the enthusiasm of visitors to the facility, who can walk inside this scale-power Smart Energy Matrix and see for themselves that this integrated group of flywheels can switch easily and repeatedly from full power charge to full power discharge in a few seconds. They come away with a good understanding of the technology and its performance."

Ken Wiseman, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the California ISO, was one of the speakers. He pointed out that 200,000 new homes are built in California each year. "These homeowners want dependable power, and they expect us to provide it," said Wiseman. "The ISO is very interested in new and better ways to manage the grid, especially with the expected addition of significant new wind generation in the next few years."

One benefit to having the full-power Smart Energy Matrix, which Beacon is looking to build in 2007, available for frequency regulation is that it may free up other conventional generation assets from being used for this purpose. This would enable the state's grid operator (the ISO) to reallocate valuable power plants to deliver power that will help avoid shortages. In addition, California's commitment to wider statewide deployment of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, will necessitate even more regulation services because of their inherently variable output.

Dr. Imre Gyuk, head of energy storage programs at the U.S. Department of Energy, praised the collaboration that produced this first-of-its-kind system. "The successful development and delivery of this high-performance flywheel energy storage system is the realization of a vision the Department of Energy shares with the California Energy Commission and the ISO," he stated. "We wanted to prove that flywheel technology has the capability to provide the essential service of frequency regulation. I am most pleased with the results, and I look forward to being able to test the larger, higher-power flywheel that Beacon has begun working on. I also expect that the Department of Energy will be able to continue to support the development of the larger flywheel and its deployment in a commercial-sized Smart Energy Matrix."