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The New Generation of Superconductor Electric Power Equipment

Rising energy demands, driven by population and economic growth, face an increasing clash with resource, land use and other environmental limits.  Amidst the fierce debate over general energy policy priorities, there is broad consensus that the need to modernize and strengthen the electric power grid is urgent.  High Temperature Superconductor (HTS) wire is one of the keys to achieving these goals.  Superconductivity is the amazing property of certain materials to conduct electricity with no resistive loss and high current density, enabling a new generation of electrical power equipment that is efficient, compact and very low in environmental impact. 
This vision has been enabled by the successful development and commercialization of robust, long-length, high performance HTS wires.  Examples of HTS applications, all in an advanced prototype stage, include:
  • High-capacity, controllable HTS cables, which offer increased delivery capacity, essentially zero local environmental impact and the ability to offload overburdened sections of the grid; 
  • Dynamic HTS synchronous condensers offer large amounts of rapidly adjusted reactive power to improve grid stability and efficiency; 
  • Utility generators that produce more electricity for every unit of fuel consumed; and
  • Fault current limiters and transformers that enable more reliable, lower cost operation of the grid.
This presentation will describe these applications, along with the superconductor wire that underlies them, and will assess their potential impact on the major grid challenges our society faces today.