Flywheel energy storage Australia: Amber Kinetics has the ancient answer to a modern problem

Amber Kinetics

The biggest challenge facing clean and renewable energy in Australia has nothing to do with low or zero-carbon energy production. We’ve got plenty of wind, sun and water to go round. The issue lies in how we harness that energy, specifically how we store it.

The problem we have with green alternatives to coal, gas and oil is their unpredictability – or intermittency – in terms of the volume of energy they can provide at any given time. It’s also safe to say that anyone who needs a failsafe and uninterrupted supply of energy is looking hard at the potential of storage to avoid expensive and damaging power outages.

Batteries offer a solution for both, but traditional lead-acid options, gas-peaked plants, or pumped hydro tend to perform poorly or okay at best. Flywheel energy storage technology might hold the answer.

Flywheels get storage moving in the right direction

Harnessing kinetic energy and perpetual motion, flywheels are a game-changing way of storing energy for use exactly when it’s needed. Storage has always been an obstacle on the road to a fully electric future – batteries tend to be costly, cumbersome and dreadful for the environment. Not exactly ideal in pursuit of green energy solutions. Flywheels, however, are low-carbon, have a lifespan of 30 years, are safe, compact and low-maintenance. They can also be scaled very effectively, up to tens or even hundreds of megawatts.

Flywheels are actually pretty ancient tech and have been in use for thousands of years in potters’ wheels and even roller coasters. The basic premise is that objects will continue in motion unless something stops them (usually an external force like friction). However, if we add a little energy to a flywheel, it will keep spinning until that energy is discharged into whatever important machine or device requires it. This means we can store energy in an efficient manner, and even if the original source is intermittent, it can be done in a consistent and controlled way. This makes flywheel energy storage a transformative choice – whether at grid level or at smaller scale data centres or hospitals that need to ensure a reliable supply of energy at all times.

Ancient technology, modern expertise

Amber Kinetics have been extolling the virtues of flywheel energy storage technology since 2008. Dr Seth Sanders, co-founder and Chief Scientist and Ed Chiao, CEO, have been able to blend their deep engineering and market expertise to create flywheel solutions that are reliable and effective, and most importantly, offer customers unbeatable innovation and affordability. In 2020 Amber Kinetics reached a milestone – producing over 255,000 of cumulative hours globally. Both Seth and Ed are hugely proud of what’s been achieved.

“We’ve increased our cumulative hours five-fold since 2018, demonstrating the faith our customers have in our technology. Our engineers constantly strive to provide the latest and most effective solutions for flywheel energy storage,” says Seth.

Amber Kinetics continue their journey to contribute to the decarbonization of the energy market. They now offer the first commercialized four-hour discharge, with a range of packages to suit customers’ needs, whatever their scale of operation. This is backed up by personalized and flexible service.

Emission-free, economical flywheel energy storage solutions are the focus. The technology is also far less susceptible to supply chain issues versus other storage solutions. Simplicity is an art form. The Amber Kinetics warranty also offers peace of mind, putting their proverbial money where their mouth is when it comes to faith in the technology. The future is exciting for flywheel energy storage, and this ancient knowledge might just be the answer to a better, fully decarbonized future in Australia and the rest of the world.