June 18, 08
Beacon Creates 2800 Pound Flywheel to Store Excess Grid Power

Beacon power has just opened up a new headquarters, with $5 million in loans from some state agencies. They're expecting to grow from 40 jobs to 108 by the end of next year. Their product is a gigantic thing called a flywheel. A way for you to actually store extra electricity.

You can't go a week without hearing Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick raved about how the Bay State's becoming a hotbed of clean energy companies. Solar. Wind power. Ethanol. Here's another kind of green energy you maybe never heard of.

Beacon power in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts makes giant flywheels.The governor came by to celebrate their new headquarters, and 70 new jobs.

Beacon's focusing on making the electric grid that powers all our homes and businesses work better. A big challenge for grid managers ... Keeping the supply of electricity precisely matched to demand every second. If they get out of whack .. .blackouts. Today one way to keep them balanced is to have big power plants throttle up and down. But that wastes fuel and increases pollution. You want power plants on cruise control.

Beacon CEO: What we're selling is a service called frequency regulation, which is just a balancing service matching power supply to the grid with power demand from the grid. Imagine you've got, you have to keep these things in balance all the time

So think of these as being like a giant rechargeable battery. Only instead of putting the electricity
into a chemical compound, you're putting it into a 2800 pound wheel spinning 16 thousand times a minute.

When you need electricity, use the energy of that spinning wheel to generate it ... Not a coal- or gas-burning power plant.

When there’s too much power we store it in our system and then when there's not enough power we bring it back out of storage again and put it on the grid. We recycle energy

Gov. Deval Patrick: A way of dealing with that constant flux and doing it in a way that is smart, is efficient, limits and reduces emissions, and in that way improves our stewardship of the environment and that's a very very good thing.