Hawaiian Electric launches four-hour kinetic energy storage system

Hawaiian Electric, in partnership with Amber Kinetics and Elemental Excelerator, has launched operations of a four-hour kinetic energy storage system powered by flywheel technology. The pilot project is the first commercial use of Amber Kinetics’ advanced technology in the U.S.

Amber Kinetics flywheel

The five-ton flywheel stores electricity as rotational kinetic energy and is capable of charging and discharging for multiple duty cycles per day with no loss of capacity.

Hawaiian Electric and Amber Kinetics are testing the 8-kW/32-kWh storage system for local grid reliability and support and aid in the integration of renewable energy. One 8-kW unit can power approximately 25 homes for one hour.

Technical field data is being collected and is expected to guide planning for future utility-owned energy storage projects in Hawaii. Communications and controls Amber Kinetics is developing in collaboration with Hawaiian Electric will be tested in a real-world setting and scaled to other jurisdictions.

The five-ton flywheel stores electricity as rotational kinetic energy and is capable of charging and discharging for multiple duty cycles per day with no loss of capacity. The environmentally friendly system is 98% steel that can be fully recycled at the end of its 30-year design life. It was installed by American Electric, a Hawaii-based company, at Hawaiian Electric’s Campbell Industrial Park generating station on Oahu.

“Hawaiian Electric is eager to test the grid stabilizing and renewable energy storing of the flywheel,” said 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.”

Amber Kinetics’ products offer substantial benefits for a wide range of utility and commercial applications. The firm’s breakthrough technology is the first to extend the duration and efficiency of flywheels from minutes to hours, resulting in safe, economical and reliable energy storage for a variety of utility-scale applications, including load shifting, peak shaving, frequency regulation, renewable firming and spinning reserve. The system is scalable and designed to allow for increased size through the addition of multiple flywheels.

“Our cost-effective technology has the potential to increase the Hawaiian Electric grid’s renewable energy capacity — an important goal shared by the State of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric, Elemental Excelerator and Amber Kinetics,” Ed Chiao, co-founder and CEO of Amber Kinetics, said. In addition to Hawaiian Electric, Amber Kinetics is currently working with clients on four continents.

Elemental Excelerator, a growth accelerator and catalyst for the deployment and scale of new technologies, chose Amber Kinetics to be part of its portfolio because of high levels of solar and wind on Hawaii’s electrical grid.

“If you are an energy storage company, Hawaii is probably one of your early markets. Solar plus storage is already at grid parity,” said Dawn Lippert, CEO of Elemental Excelerator. “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.”

The project afforded all who worked on it the opportunity to advance energy storage knowledge and experience. “Participating in this project has been an exciting opportunity to be part of the cutting-edge technology that is essential to Hawaii’s energy future,” added Cameron Pickle, project manager for American Electric Co., LLC, the electrical power systems contractor for the project.

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