Williams Advanced Engineering, the division of Williams that commercialises Formula One derived technologies, is embarking on a project to install flywheel energy storage technology in two remote Scottish island communities to help stabilise their power grids, improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from non-renewable power sources.
The Isle of Eigg and Fair Isle will be the first sites in Europe to install this kind of energy storage technology into their power networks. Originally pioneered by Williams for Grand Prix racing following the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) into the sport in 2009, the technology has since been introduced by the company into a range of applications outside of motor racing such as hybrid buses. The project is being partially funded by an extended grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Energy Entrepreneurs Fund which aims to encourage innovation in the low carbon sector.
The high tech firm has joined forces with the Fair Isle Electricity Company and Eigg Electric to identify possible operational improvements, energy saving and environmental benefits from installing the technology on each island. The Fair Isle power network relies heavily on wind turbines and diesel generators to supplement the power system and can only guarantee power during the day. Williams Advanced Engineering’s flywheel technology will smooth the power flowing from the wind turbines and inject stored energy when needed. This will improve the quality of power received by residents and reduce the reliance on costly diesel generators that produce high CO2 emissions.
Robert Mitchell, Director of Fair Isle Electric Company, said: “We are delighted that Williams Advanced Engineering is going to be installing this equipment in 2014. This will provide a much needed “buffer” to improve our power quality and reduce how often we use the diesel generators. Our two wind turbines produce more than enough power most of the time but they cannot store energy so this will be an excellent addition.”
The island’s power network uses a mix of renewable sources, including solar, hydro and wind power. It currently uses lead acid batteries to store excess renewable energy and smooth the flow of power. Using batteries in this way means that the system doesn’t need diesel generators but their life span is cut short. Williams’ flywheel energy storage system can take on this role so that the batteries can then be used for their main job of long term bulk energy storage.
Paul Newsome, Chief Technical Officer of Williams Advanced Engineering, added: “Energy efficient technologies are at the heart of Williams’ diversification strategy and this project is a very tangible example of how technology originally developed for Formula One racing can have a direct relevance to people’s lives. Finding ways to make renewable energy more efficient and reliable is increasingly important, particularly in remote locations that rely on this form of power, and this ground breaking partnership will help demonstrate the strong potential of Williams Advanced Engineering’s solution.”