St. Paul Island, located in the middle of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, is to be the scene of an innovative energy storage project, in which Beacon Power’s flywheel energy storage system will be integrated into an existing wind-diesel microgrid.
The flywheel technology will stabilize and support the grid and is expected to increase diesel-off time by an additional 10% to 15%.
Flywheel energy storage demonstration
The high penetration hybrid power plant on St. Paul Island was financed and built by TDX Corporation, the Alaska Native Village Corporation (ANC) for the Community of St. Paul. The generation for the hybrid microgrid system is provided by a 225kW Vestas V27 wind turbine and two 150kW Volvo diesel generators, along with smart switch technology and a synchronizing condenser. Originally commissioned in 1999, the plant supplies electricity and heat to an industrial/airport facility, and has reduced the cost of electricity and heat to 40% of the original diesel-based generation cost. Beacon’s technology should enable TDX to further improve wind utilization, delivering projected fuel savings of up to 30% over existing (pre flywheel) consumption levels.
“Beacon Power is excited to be involved in such a groundbreaking project,” said Barry Brits, president and chief executive officer for Beacon Power. “This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the extended storage capabilities of the Beacon Power flywheel system.”
Installation of the flywheel system is scheduled to start in October and be complete by year-end.
Opportunities for wind energy in Alaska
Sustainability is a key value of TDX and the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI). Providing the innovative technology to leverage the natural energy sources available on-island, dramatically increases energy security and contributes directly to improving social and economic security.
“There are significant opportunities for Alaskans to utilize reliable, cost-effective renewable wind energy for combined heat and power (CHP) needs. This demonstration project will further quantify and show how renewable wind energy systems can be used to achieve optimal fuel savings for both electricity and heating, showcasing its compelling economics, environmental stewardship and system reliability that are important to Alaskans” said Kord Christianson, president of TDX Power.
The project has received sponsorship from the Alaska Energy Authority’s Emerging Energy Technology Fund to demonstrate the flywheel energy storage system’s ability to improve system efficiencies in remote and harsh environments and create a model for use across Alaska’s remote grid community and other island and remote grid systems. As such, it should be of wider interest in other parts of the world. [Engerati- Integration of renewable energy in rural microgrids: experience sharing between Africa and Alaska]