The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved NYISO tariff changes intended to accommodate participation of flywheel and similar energy storage devices in markets to supply frequency regulation services. Flywheel developer Beacon Power applauded the change.
The FERC order, linked above, describes a number of changes to the NYISO tariff and operating procedures needed for flywheel technology to work economically in the ISO’s markets. Interestingly, some of the changes reflect ways in which flywheel-based services are superior to traditional generator-based provision of frequency regulation service (much faster response, much more finely controlable), some of the changes reflect limitations in flywheel capabilities relative to other suppliers (resources under consideration could sustain service for only 15 minutes), and some of the changes just reflect ways in which flywheels are different (operators want to bid in the regulation market without also bidding in the energy supply market).
In the NYISO, much of the frequency regulation services needed have been provided by hydro units, but some of it is provided by thermal generating units. The rapid small ups-and-downs in generator output necessary to supply frequency regulation from thermal units typically cause the units to use more fuel and emit more pollutants than otherwise. The addition of flywheel technologies to the mix should lead to a small environmental benefit, too, in addition to reducing the overall costs of frequency regulation.