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Ireland has announced Europe’s first flywheel project, which could “revolutionise” the renewable sector thanks to its unlimited storage capability.

Ireland’s Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has recently announced that a flywheel plant with potentially unlimited storage capability will be built in the country, and the foundations for the project – which is expected to launch commercially in 2017 – will be laid within weeks.

A motor-generated flywheel will use energy from the grid at times of over-supply and will release the energy from underwater turbines at times of supply deficit, thus solving the problem of clean energy supply shortfalls when there is insufficient sun or wind.

In fact, the system could “revolutionise” the integration of renewable power into electricity supplies and will operate at a capacity of 20MW at upwards of 85-90% efficiency, while at the moment energy shortages are compensated for with fossil fuel generators – such as coal or gas-fired power plants – which have an efficiency ratio of only 35-40%.

This project goes in the direction of an overall revision of Europe’s last-century grid networks, as has been wished for by the EU’s vice president for energy union Maroš Šefčovič.

In fact, Šefčovič believes that smart grids could “do for Europe what shale gas did for the United States”, and they will be able to carry energy, data, products and services, also allowing people to sell back surplus electricity to the electricity network; however, in order to do so, they will need a major overhaul.

The flywheel project is founded by the European Commission and the Irish government, and is likely to create 50 new jobs.



The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

(Source: Guardian)