EDF trials flywheels at Paris testing grid

Facing the demands of a modern grid environment, EDF is assessing the performance of flywheel energy storage technology.

France’s utility EDF has accepted delivery of a flywheel energy storage system which was manufactured by Germany’s flywheel manufacturer, Stornetic.

The DuraStor system has been installed at EDF’s Concept Grid, a smart grid test facility in Moret-sur-Loing, just south of Paris.

The joint project on “advanced smart grid storage solutions” between EDF and Stornetic was first announced last November.  

According to EDF R&D director Etienne Brière, speaking at the time of the project’s launch last year, the utility’s research teams are keen to test the capabilities of flywheels, which tend to have fast-responding short duration energy storage, for delivering grid services such as frequency regulation as well as system-level services such as renewables smoothing.  

Concept Grid

Concept Grid is aimed at reducing the time to market of new smart grid technologies, by helping manufacturers, start-ups and academics to understand and meet the challenges of a real field environment. It also acts as a laboratory for utilities to prepare and de-risk experimentations through accelerated test campaigns that would be impossible to carry out in the field.

Concept Grid is composed of 10 km of real electrical medium and low voltage networks, it has several substations and test areas, a neighbourhood of five small houses fitted with local generation, and it can also perform bespoke scenarios with power hardware in the loop simulation.

About the flywheel system

The Stornetic DuraStor system combines a number of Stornetic’s EnWheel-branded flywheels in a modular configuration.

EnWheel can spin at 45,000 revolutions per minute and DuraStor units have energy storage capacities from the 10s of kilowatts up to the megawatt range.

Stornetic says that the mechanical energy storage devices are capable of lasting 1,000,000 charging cycles, without the degradation of energy storage capacity over time which is seen in lithium batteries, for instance.

Stornetic has marketed its systems at market segments including wind farms and regenerative braking technology for trains. The company is also preparing a large-scale system in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, to demonstrate how to stabilise and operate distribution grids without fossil fuel plants, by siting the system with pumped hydro and other technologies.

Meanwhile, other major utilities to be examining, demonstrating and testing flywheels include Italy-headquartered Enel partnering with US manufacturer Amber Kinetics and Hawaiian Electric also working with Amber Kinetics on installing a flywheel system with a four hours energy storage capability.  

Currently, what is thought to be Europe’s biggest flywheel system is being installed by a consortium including the University of Sheffield, in England, part-funded by the European Union’s Horizon2020 programme.