One of the most prevalent issues surrounding solar and other clean energy sources is how to store the surplus energy for use during hours when production is limited. Luckily, for Fresno, a new solution may be just around the corner.
Flywheel Energy Storage
Amber Kinetics, a company specializing in flywheels technology, just won a bid to lease a plot of land near a PG&E power station in the southwest of Fresno. There, they plan to build a facility that will reportedly be able to store more energy for longer periods of time than nearly any other facility in the state.
Flywheels are rotating devices that are able to store surplus energy with little loss. During hours when excess solar energy is generated, it will be diverted to the flywheel station. Torque will be applied to the devices, causing them to spin. Amber Kintetic’s technology minimizes the impact of air drag, mechanical friction, and electrical resistance, which then allows the flywheels to spin for hours on end. In the evening, when less solar energy is being generated, the energy can be re-harvested from the flywheels and returned to the power grid.
Bill Barnes of Amber Kinetics explains how Flywheels are one of the greenest energy storage solutions out there: “There are no air emissions, there’s no noise because these flywheels are in a vacuum container, and there’s no visual impact because they’re partially buried below the Earth and are landscaped on top.”
The facility is estimated to be up and running by early 2020.