Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5 million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power. Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK. The cylindrical structures draw electricity from the grid when surplus is available, powering a motor that makes the flywheel rotor spin at high speed. So far, efforts to tackle the problem have focused on lithium-ion batteries, which can respond in less than a second to provide or absorb power and restore balance to the grid. Eight such projects are being built around the UK after winning contracts from National Grid last year. Dr Gladwin said that such batteries would degrade over time the more they were charged and discharged, and were only expected to have a lifetime of ten years. Flywheels were a better way to deal with rapid short-term fluctuations, he said. The flywheel project in Willenhall should provide a megawatt of power for just over a minute before it runs out of energy.
Times 2nd June 2017 read more »