Mass. Company’s Spinning Flywheels to Store, Pace Electric Energy and Make Grid Greener

By Jay Lindsay on September 20, 2009

Spinning flywheels have been used for centuries for jobs from making pottery to running steam engines. Now the ancient tool has been given a new job by a Massachusetts company: smooth out the electricity flow, and do it fast and clean.

Beacon Power’s flywheels — each weighing one ton, levitating in a sealed chamber and spinning up to 16,000 times per minute — will make the electric grid more efficient and green, the company says. It’s being given a chance to prove it: the U.S. Department of Energy has granted Beacon a $43 million conditional loan guarantee to construct a 20-megawatt flywheel plant in upstate New York.

“We are very excited about this technology and this company,” said Matt Rogers, a senior adviser to the Secretary of Energy. “It’s a lower (carbon dioxide) impact, much faster response for a growing market need, and so we get pretty excited about that.”

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