News & Events

First Hybrid-Flywheel Energy Storage Plant in Europe announced in Midlands

Europe’s first grid connected Hybrid flywheel system service facility was today (Thursday Match 26th) officially announced by Ged Nash, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

US company to invest up to $1m in Offaly start-up

More than 50 jobs to be created in construction and commissioning

Irish company Schwungrad Energie Limited is behind the initiative which will be based in Rhode, Co. Offaly and is being developed in collaboration with the Department of Physics & Energy at University of Limerick. It has received the support of Beacon Power, LLC, a US based company and global leader in the design, development and commercial deployment of proven flywheel energy storage technology at the utility scale.

Approximately 30-40 jobs will be created during the construction phase which is now underway. A further 10-15 sustainable jobs will follow. Flywheel technology produces and stores small but highly flexible amounts of power to suit grid requirements.

Schwungrad received the first phase of up to €2.55 million European Commission Horizon 2020 funding to assist the project in December 2014, aimed at developing a hybrid system security and reliability technology, to overcome technical barriers and enable the establishment of low carbon and efficient energy systems.

Additional investment has been received from Offaly based company, RR Projects and the European Commission, to facilitate development of Europe’s first Hybrid flywheel system service facility.

The Irish Trasmission System Operator. EirGrid, selected this project as a potential “Demonstration Project” under its Smart Grid Programme.

This initiative promotes and supports the development, trialling and proofing of new concepts, solutions and technologies. It focuses on projects that demonstrate specific smart grid concepts in an Irish power system context, particularly system services.

Schwungrad and EirGrid are investigating possible collaboration on how best to operate the plant to provide rapid frequency response and voltage control, which contribute to system stabilisation

A team at the Department of Physics & Energy at University of Limerick, led by Prof. Noel Buckley and Dr Robert Lynch, are focused on electrochemical batteries for large-scale energy storage and grid stabilisation. These technologies are becoming critically important as an increasing fraction of electricity is derived from renewable sources such as wind. The work will include research and modelling.

Minister Ged Nash said, “This announcement is great news for Offaly and the midlands region in general with up to 40 jobs being created in the construction phase of the hybrid-flywheel energy plant, and up to 15 full-time jobs thereafter. It is also an exciting development in terms of clean energy technology and I want to wish Schwungrad Energie well with the project.”

Frank Burke, Schwungrad Technical Director, with extensive industry experience and who was involved in the early development of system services, says: “Flywheel technology has the advantage of being a ‘100% clean’ power source as the hybrid technology has no direct fuel use or related emissions, and no water consumption.

“It simply absorbs power, stores it and is continuously ready to respond to any grid requirements to rapidly inject power... It is not a power plant in the conventional sense, but operates as a shock absorber and dynamic energy support system, absorbing and re-injecting small but highly flexible amounts of power to suit grid requirements.”

“The site in Rhode was selected due to the historical tradition of electricity generation in the area and the infrastructure available on the brownfield site. Access to the electricity network and other related services can be achieved with minimal disruption. The facility will be unobtrusive -the flywheels are under two metres in height and almost silent in operation.

Beacon Power President & CEO, Barry Brits says: “Beacon Power is very pleased to be working with the innovative team at Schwungrad and looks forward to supporting the successful implementation of this important project in Ireland. We are optimistic about the potential in Ireland and Europe for short-duration flywheel energy storage as a key tool to help address the grid system stability impacts of leading implementation of renewable energy sources.

“In this ‘new’ energy storage marketplace, we have been providing these kinds of services in the US for over seven years, have accumulated over eight million flywheel operating hours and delivered more than 300 gigawatt-hours of service to electric grid operators.”

Doireann Barry, EirGrid, says: “EirGrid will have a keen interest in the results from Schwungrad Energie’s proposal to build a hybrid powered flywheel test facility in Rhode. This project has the potential to address system operation issues including advanced voltage controls and system services reserve provision. This could provide additional flexibility to the grid and facilitate the integration of high levels of variable renewable energy sources.”


For further information on this media release please contact:

John Gallagher - John Gallagher Consulting - Tel. 087 9369888

Note for Editors:

Flywheel technology has been integrated in the US energy system where it can provide a range of services to support the stability of the energy network and help integrate variable output renewable energy. The new Rhode plant will integrate hybrid flywheel technology, developed by Schwungrad Energie, to maximise the benefits of both technologies in storing and generating power instantaneously as required by the grid to enhance and ensure ‘system stability.’

Hybrid powered flywheels are not currently used in Europe to provide system services to electricity grids on a utility scale but have emerged as a feasible solution.

The flywheel system, with very high cycling ability, can rapidly absorb short-term excess gird energy and generate energy as needed by grid operators. Batteries can provide energy over longer durations but have more limited cycling capabilities. The hybrid flywheel will assist in disruption mitigation, during times of unexpected demand or sudden fluctuations in energy supply/demand. The development at Rhode will provide essential system services to suit grid requirements, with the unique ability to do so without delivering electricity to the grid. *****************

Schwungrad Energie Ltd is an Irish-owned innovative clean technology company backed by a consortium of Irish and international energy specialists and advisors an is supported by RR Projects, Tullamore who have extensive experience developing novel technologies for the power and energy industry. The company specialises in the installation and operation of high-energy battery/flywheel storage plant which can support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation. Schwungrad is a consortium of energy specialists and financial investors and is based in Ireland.

Schwungrad intend to provide system services to transmission system operators (TSOs) in European Countries, which will provide for the achievement of renewable electricity targets throughout the EU by enabling higher levels of intermittent and unpredictable renewable generation.

Schwungrad will develop the capability of providing system services in an effective and economical way by adapting proven flywheel and integrating battery technology to produce an innovative hybrid system. The plant equipment will meet relevant EU standards.

Beacon Power is the global leader in development and commercialization of fast response flywheel-based energy storage systems, offering proven solutions at the utility-scale for power grid efficiency, frequency regulation, grid reliability, renewable power integration and other ancillary services. Beacon currently operates three commercial flywheel plants ranging in capacity up to 20 MW in three different U.S. markets and their flywheel system has delivered over seven million operating hours. The company’s patented flywheel systems are modular and can be configured to meet the power capacity demands of a variety of applications, from 100 kW to multi-MW systems. Beacon Power headquarters and manufacturing facility are in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts