U.S. Looks to Flywheel Tech to Green Electric Grid

The U.S. Department of Energy has granted a $43 million loan to a Massachusetts-based company to prove the value of a new technology in which spinning flywheels are used to improve the efficiency of the electric grid. Beacon Power Corp. will build a 20-megawatt flywheel plant in upstate New York in which flywheels spinning up to 16,000 times per minute will act as a sort of short-term power storage system for the state’s electrical distribution system, according to the Associated Press.

Essentially, the spinning flywheels would suck excess energy off the electric grid when supply is high, store it in the spinning cores, and return the energy to the grid when demand grows. Currently, fossil fuel generation feeds such demands on the electric grid, but Beacon officials predict using flywheels would cut carbon emissions in half. “It’s a lower (carbon dioxide) impact, much faster response for a growing market need, and so we get pretty excited about that,” said Matt Rogers, a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360.

[photo credit: Flickr]

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2 comments on “U.S. Looks to Flywheel Tech to Green Electric Grid

There is an even better “Emerging Technology, G-Drive”, details available at:


Flywheels can also be used as a source of energy rather than a storage unit!
Moreover, dimensions can be much smaller and earnings can be much higher.

However, will this emerging technology challenge be called by “Beacon Power Corp.” or alike?

The work group has close ties with MIT-Cambridge-Massachusetts and offers collaboration for industrial applications.

Should those relevant people in industry anywhere be interested, please contact us by e-mail soon.

Kind regards,
M.Gulkaya – The EnerGravity Team Leader
Mechanicsal Eng + MBA (Cass BS-City U. – London , 1997)
Fulbright (Humphrey) Fellow at MIT-SPURS-Cambridge in 2006-07

Jonathan Allen

Flywheels are a good idea since they have a round-trip efficiency in the high 90% range. Also, unlike batteries they don’t degrade with repeated charge-discharge cycles. As for helping grid efficiency, large power generators “like” to run at nearly constant load, so the load leveling function is certainly helpful.

The only thing that sounds excessive is the 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. I would like to see the calculations behind that claim.

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