Brief but disruptive power outages are a fact of life for villages using diesel and hybrid micro-grids, together with constant fluctuations in voltage, damaging electrical appliances as well as the grid network itself.
Energy demand invariably spikes up in newly electrified communities, pushing small grids to their limits as lifestyles and businesses embrace the benefits of easier access to power.
Finnish cleantech startup Teraloop is exploring whether a new flywheel energy storage system it has developed can provide the extra capacity these grids need, starting with island communities in Indonesia.
Flywheels are seen as a cost-effective complement to batteries for certain applications, storing power in the form of kinetic energy rather than electricity.
Teraloop has been working on a version with a hubless carbon-fiber rotor, that spins in a vacuum chamber with the help of a purpose-built active magnetic bearing and control system.
Reduced friction, combined with a lightweight design, helps retain more power and energy than conventional flywheel systems.
A more stable supply
Teraloop’s flywheel could make diesel and diesel-renewable microgrids more stable by managing shifts in voltage, frequency and solar power.
The company also plans to install cold storage facilities that depend on a more reliable and sustainable energy supply as part of its rollout.
While the initial focus is on island microgrid optimization and off-grid communities, Teraloop believes its solution can also support places that are prone to power outages from the main grid, as demand for energy expands faster than the existing infrastructure.
Teraloop was launched in 2014 after starting life in the innovation hub of Finland’s Aalto University. In 2017, the company received an equity investment from Japanese manufacturer Yaskawa Electric Corporation.
Teraloop is supported by Finland’s national funding for innovation entity Business Finland, and is implementing various projects under the European Commission’s programme Horizon 2020.
Teraloop was shortlisted in the ‘Renewable energy-based micro-grids’ category for the ADB’s Energy Sector Technology Innovation Challenge.