Huge Flywheel Project to Aid UK's Renewable Energy Uptake

The new system, made by GE and Starkraft, could stabilize the UK energy grid’s electrical frequency.
Chris Young
The photo credit line may appear like thisStarkraft

An enormous flywheel construction in north-east Scotland could soon be put to use to prevent blackouts across the United Kingdom.

The system, which was made as part of a collaboration between GE and Starkraft, would, essentially, mimic the effect of a power station without using any fossil fuels.


Mimicking a power station's spinning turbines

The flywheel project which is located near Keith in Moray aims to start operating from next winter, Norwegian energy company Starkraft said in a press relase.

The project, which is expected to cost taxpayers approximately £25m, will not generate electricity or produce carbon emissions, The Guardian writes. What it could do is help to stabilize the energy grid’s electrical frequency, and in doing so remove the need for a carbon-emitting power station's spinning turbines to do the job.

In the present, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) sees itself having to shut down wind farms and run gas power stations even though there is more than enough renewable energy to meet Britain's electricity demand. ESO has to do this in order to keep the grid's frequency steady at about 50 hertz.

Preventing blackouts

In August of last year, more than a million people across the UK faced the worst power blackout in more than a decade after the grid frequency fell to 48.88Hz.

The new flywheel project will simulate the enormous spinning turbines of a power station in order to allow ESO to use renewable energy more.

"This approach is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a huge step forward in our ambition to be able to operate the GB electricity system carbon-free by 2025,” ESO said in the press release.

Ultimately, the project is aimed at keeping the grid stable in the face of Britain's growing renewable energy projects — an effort being made to tackle the ongoing climate crisis.


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