Pilot project for flywheel storage underway in Hawaii

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A pilot project for kinetic energy storage has begun operations on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The project features flywheel energy storage technology, provided by California’s Amber Kinetics – the first time the company’s flywheels have been commercially deployed in the United States.

The 8 kW/32 kilowatt-hour flywheel was installed by American Electric, at Hawaiian Electric’s Campbell Industrial Park generating station on Oahu. The project aims to test the technology, and to collect data on its suitability for future utility-owned storage projects in Hawaii, as well to allow Amber Kinetics to further its technology offering.

“Hawaiian Electric is eager to test the grid stabilizing and renewable energy storing of the flywheel,” noted Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for planning and technology. “Our evaluation of this very promising energy storage system will help us determine how we can use flywheels to help integrate renewables at a lower cost while improving reliability and resiliency of the grid.”

Hawaii installed 109 MW of new solar in 2017, and was one of only three U.S. states to get more than 10% of its electricity from solar in the first nine months of the year. The state expects to see much more utility-scale PV installed in 2018, and is seen by many as a leading market for energy storage, to support the high levels of solar and wind generation.

“If you are an energy storage company, Hawaii is probably one of your early markets,” says Dawn Lippert, CEO of Elemental Excelerator, a growth accelerator and catalyst for the deployment and scale of new technologies which also provided support for this project. “Solar plus storage is already at grid parity.”

“Amber Kinetics is one example of how companies are leveraging the economics of energy storage in Hawaii to deploy their technology for the first time in a commercial setting.”