Flywheel storage pilots in Philippines and Hawaii

PHILIPPINES: Amber Kinetics, a US developer of a multi-hour flywheel energy storage system, is piloting its technology in the Philippines and Hawaii.

US firm Amber Kinetics is trialling its flywheel storage solution at sites in the Philippines and Hawaii
US firm Amber Kinetics is trialling its flywheel storage solution at sites in the Philippines and Hawaii

In the Philippines, Amber Kinetics is working with local independent power producer Emerging Power, a subsidiary of mining firm Nickel Asia Corporation. A single flywheel with a capacity of 6.25/25kWh was installed earlier this month.

The pilot project will be used to integrate generation from a 150MW wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) project Emerging Power built earlier this year near Subic Bay, in the north-west of the country.

Amber Kinetics also has a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Emerging Power for a 10MW/40MWh flywheel energy storage system, should the pilot prove successful, which will smooth the variability of solar and wind into the transmission system.

Flywheel energy storage works by rotating steel rotors at extremely high speeds, to store kinetic energy, which can be discharged when required.

Flywheels can be cycled — the charging up and releasing of energy — many thousands of times, with little degradation, unlike cells in lithium batteries, which degrade after a few thousand cycles.

"Maintenance consists of changing bearings, about every ten years, which are easily accessible to swap out," said Amber Kinetics vice president of project development, Mark Stout.


The California-based start-up is also shipping one of its flywheels to a project for utility Hawaiian Electric, which will be built at the Campbell Industrial Park generating station on O'ahu.

"The pilot will show that we've got the technology down and can scale up," Stout said.

Hawaiian Electric will use the flywheel to test a number of storage applications, which have yet to be finalised.

To develop its multi-hour flywheel the company has achieved a low dollar per kilowatt cost and low self-discharge rate. Researchers performed early technology and prototype development work at the University of California, Berkeley Power Electronics Laboratory.

The start-up's largest deal to date is a contract with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for 20MW of flywheel energy storage. The system will start to be installed in 2019, to be fully operational in 2020.

The contract with Amber Kinetics forms a portion of the 75MW of energy storage the Californian utility is procuring as part of its 580MW share of the 1.3GW energy storage mandate imposed by the state's public utilities commission.

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