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Hawaiian Electric, Amber Kinetics launch kinetic energy storage pilot project

CTBR Staff Writer Published 13 March 2018

Hawaiian Electric and Amber Kinetics have launched a pilot project for kinetic energy storage system (KESS), powered by flywheel technology.

The two companies have commenced the operations of four-hour KESS. The pilot project marks the first commercial use of Amber Kinetics’ technology in the US.

Hawaiian Electric and Amber Kinetics are testing an 8KW/32KWh for local grid stability. It is also being piloted to support the integration of renewable energy into the grid.

The 8KW unit can power about 25 homes for one hour. Presently, technical field data is being collected and is expected to guide planning for utility-owned energy storage projects in Hawaii in the future.

In collaboration with Hawaiian Electric, Amber Kinetics is developing communications and controls which will be tested in a real-world setting.

Hawaiian Electric planning and technology senior vice president Colton Ching said: “Hawaiian Electric is eager to test the grid stabilizing and renewable energy storing of the flywheel.

“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.”

It is claimed that the five-ton flywheel stores electricity as rotational kinetic energy and can charge and discharge for multiple duty cycles per day with no loss of capacity.  

The system has been installed by the Hawaii-based American Electric, at Hawaiian Electric’s Campbell Industrial Park generating station on Oahu.

Amber Kinetics’ technology is claimed to be the first to extend the duration and efficiency of flywheels from minutes to hours, resulting in safe, economical and reliable energy storage. 

Elemental Excelerator CEO Dawn Lippert said: “If you are an energy storage company, Hawaii is probably one of your early markets. 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.”