Islands & Isolated Grids
Isolated grids such as islands, remote communities and remote industrial operations are typically cut off from larger grid infrastructure and therefore face unique challenges. They are often dependent on expensive liquid fossil-fueled generators for electricity supply. Renewable energy—such as wind and solar—introduces a path to escape from this expensive fossil fueled generation, but at a cost to grid stability. These grids are typically smaller and less diverse than major market grids, and stability cannot always be efficiently managed with generation alone—sometimes actions involve disconnecting loads.
Beacon flywheel storage systems offer a grid stabilizing solution that provides frequency control and voltage support through active and reactive power injection and absorption. Flywheel storage increases the proportion of variable wind and solar that can be integrated, thus reducing fossil fuel consumption and associated cost as well as generation unit starts and stops and ramping related wear and tear.
The number of wind/diesel and solar/diesel power systems operating around the world continues to increase at a rapid pace. A wind turbine or solar panel placed in parallel with a diesel generator works to reduce fuel consumption by allowing that generator to be shut down when wind or solar output exceeds load. However, when load approximately matches available wind/solar production, the generator is usually kept at minimum operating level for the occasional event when wind or solar power drops for a few seconds or minutes below connected load. This mode of operation is very inefficient.
The introduction of energy storage can act to further reduce diesel fuel consumption by using the stored energy to provide both load following and a short-term bridge between a sudden drop in renewable output and start-up of the diesel unit, thus saving many hours of inefficient diesel backup operation.
Microgrids are usually connected to a large conventional grid and then potentially are islanded in emergency conditions such as major storms. Flywheels can enhance system resilience enabling microgrids to operate in a semi-autonomous or fully-autonomous mode or to change between the two. The flywheel facilitates these transitions by becoming the proxy grid reference and setting the appropriate frequency and voltage for the rest of the grid to synchronize around. The unique capability of Beacon flywheels includes both instantaneous response and sufficient energy to optimize solutions with other resources in the system.
7,834,479 (other U.S. and international patents pending).