From generators to transformers, transmission and distribution to motors, wire forms the basic building block of the world's electric power system. The discovery of revolutionary high temperature superconducting (HTS) compounds in 1986 led to the development of a radically new type of wire for the power industry—the most fundamental advance in wire technology in more than a century.
In the United States, Europe and Japan, the race is on to commercialise this next-generation wire that can carry over one hundred times more current than conventional copper and aluminium conductors of the same dimension. The superior power density of HTS wire will enable a new generation of power industry technologies. It offers major size, weight and efficiency benefits. HTS technologies will drive down costs and increase the capacity and reliability of electric power systems in a variety of ways:
• High capacity cable capable of transmitting two to five times more power through existing rights of way. This new cable will offer a powerful tool to improve the performance of power grids while reducing their environmental footprint.
• Compact, efficient and powerful motors with output ratings of 1000 hp and above. The use of HTS technology enables the design of high-efficiency motors that are dramatically smaller and lighter than the conventional motors they replace.
• Inherently safe, environmentally benign and "smart" transformers. Superconductivity enables these devices to automatically limit the spread of dangerous fault currents, offering important system reliability and performance benefits.
HTS technology also enables other applications such as compact and efficient generators that provide fast, reactive power support. These HTS 100MW generators can help keep the grid running smoothly in the face of new patterns of power flows brought on by deregulation of power generation throughout the world. (Stand-alone fault current limiters represent a new class of devices that will protect power grids from troublesome current surges that can cause costly outages and damage utility system components.)
Utility and industrial customer demand for grid stabilization and power quality technology are being addressed through compact power storage systems. These compact power storage systems incorporate conventional low-temperature and revolutionary HTS materials, to smooth voltage disturbances on power grids and in industrial plants.
Future Power Demands
In the past three decades, electricity has risen from 25% to 40% of end-use energy consumption in the United States. With this rising demand for power comes an increasingly critical requirement for highly reliable, high quality "high-nines" power. As power demands continue to grow, older urban power systems in particular are being pushed to the limit of performance, calling for new solutions. Throughout the electric power industry, from production through transmission and distribution to end-use, superconductivity is forming the basis for a new set of technologies that will revolutionize the way the world uses electricity.
Typical applications include:
• Electricity transmission and distribution
• Power Storage