Flywheels on the Runway



It's an unavoidable issue. The peak hours of production for renewable energies aren't always aligned with the peak hours of demand. In August, Southern California Edison confirmed that they would apply for a $25 million dollar grant to construct a giant lithium-ion battery to store energy during off-peak hours. Still, the thought of a giant lithium battery humming along in the SoCal desert may rub some clean energy purists the wrong way.

The flywheel might offer an alternative. It consists of a rotor suspended by either magnetic are mechanical bearings that is accelerated at tens-of-thousands of revolutions per minute. The kinetic energy is maintained and used as a source for subsequent energy needs. The Monterey County Herald reported yesterday that Frederick Schuchardt of San Raphael based Bridgeway GenenTech and UC Berkeley researchers Seth Sanders and Hari Dharan are bidding for a $7.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop a prototype of the system.