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Technology Description

Flywheels are powered by electricity and can store electrical energy as rotating inertia. When charged, the flywheel accelerates; when discharged, the flywheel slows and the kinetic energy is converted back into electricity by a generator. Air friction is usually reduced by placing the flywheel in a vacuum, and rotating friction is minimised by using magnetically levitated bearings, resulting in high efficiencies of 90-95%. The energy output tends to be low, so flywheels are limited to short-term applications such as spinning reserve for grid frequency regulation. The fast response time, low maintenance requirements and very high cycle life (i.e. can undergo a large number of charge and discharge cycles) are also important characteristics for short-term applications to maintain power quality. In addition, flywheel storage can provide both up and down regulation during the same time period, although not simultaneously.

Relevance for Net Zero

A higher integration of VRE and the subsequent decrease in the inertia of the system, increases the need of masses in the system, especially for balancing purposes and power quality.

Key Countries

Germany, Netherlands, Ireland

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