Beacon Power inks ARPA-E contract to develop long-duration flywheel for renewable energy integration

Source: Beacon Power

Beacon Power Corporation (Nasdaq:BCON) signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency -- Energy (ARPA-E) calling for Beacon to develop critical components of a highly advanced "flying ring" flywheel energy storage system over a two-year period, beginning immediately. The contract is valued at $2.8 million. ARPA-E grant recipients share a portion of the program cost, and Beacon would contribute $560,000, or 20% of the $2.8 million program total. 

As previously announced, the goal of the development project would be to store four times the energy at one-eighth the cost per kilowatt-hour, versus Beacon's current Smart Energy 25 (Gen 4) flywheel system. Beacon's Gen 4 flywheel is currently in production and being deployed on the grid to provide frequency regulation service. Beacon expects that the ARPA-E-funded flywheel system, if successfully carried through to a commercial product, would be suitable for a variety of new applications. 

"These innovative ideas will play a critical role in our energy security and economic growth," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "It is now more important than ever to invest in a new, clean energy economy," he added, referencing the projects ARPA-E selected for funding in July of this year. Beacon Power was one of only 43 projects selected during this competitive funding opportunity. ARPA-E had received 529 initial concept papers and encouraged 164 applicants to submit full applications. 

One new application of particular interest to the Department of Energy is so-called "ramping" support for wind and solar power. The goal would be to provide one hour of flywheel storage as an energy-balancing resource for intermittent renewable energy assets, and thereby reduce the amount of fossil-based backup power that might be used to provide the same effect. The benefit would be to enable significantly greater market penetration of renewable generation resources in a clean and sustainable way. Some of the technology developed under the ARPA-E program may also lead to reduced costs and increased performance for Beacon's current generation of flywheels.

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