Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Mexico Super Station

What is about to happen in the energy business is that the so called smart grid is about to supersede the classic copper based room temperature energy transmission. In a way, the industry has been allowing its present infrastructure to age while they have waited for this to happen.

This report from New Mexico gives us a taste of what is coming. The material from American superconductor tells us what can be delivered today.

When I grew up, transmission range was about 500 miles before line losses made it impossible. During that era, it became possible to double the range and the result of that was the building of James Bay to supply the North East. Today, I am sure it is all paid for.

These super conductor cables make it possible to ship power across the country with minimal loss.

The obvious low hanging fruit is to run a power trunk from California through New Mexico to Texas over to the Carolinas and up to the Northeast and Chicago and then back toward the wind turbines in the Great Plains and then perhaps back into the Northwest and back south to California.

The great power pools will be the wind turbines and geothermal in Nevada. Most Hydropower has been integrated decades ago. Additional huge Hydro resources still exist in Northern British Columbia and through Alaska. These could also be accessed about as easily with this technology.

This technology enables a massive expansion of grid power.

Solar power will also be fitted in, but its present real promise is to displace a great deal of residential consumption while possibly implementing a parallel low voltage local home distribution system.

New Mexico "SuperStation" Could Link Major Power Grids

Written by Megan Treacy on 14/10/09

A new idea for a large substation based in Clovis, New Mexico has the potential to solve one of the biggest hurdles to clean energy growth: transmission. The SuperStation, as its being called, would link the three largest grids - the east, west and Texas - allowing renewable energy producers to sell electricity across the country instead of just within their own grid.

The basic setup of the SuperStation would be a huge substation using superconducting cables to transmit electricity. The cables would carry 5 GW of electricity to and from the substation where it would be converted from AC from the grids to DC and then back to AC on its way back out. The cables are chilled to 300 degrees below zero which lets them carry more electricity, more cheaply. Tres Amigas, the company that hopes to build the project, would charge a fee for the SuperStation's use.

As more renewable energy projects are planned and built, it's infrastructure like this that will ultimately allow that clean electricity to make it into our homes. This project is expected to encounter lots of red tape because of the heavy regulation of power transmission, and it comes with a $1 billion price tag, so, for now, we can only hope it makes it.

via Wall Street Journal

Superconductor Power Cables

Superconductor electric power transmission and distribution cables deliver significantly more power than conventional cables, helping reduce grid congestion as well as installation and operating costs – all with low environmental impact. Download Superconductor Cable application note.

High-capacity, very low impedance superconductor cables are now being deployed in live grid cable projects – paving the way for a brighter, smarter, more secure electricity future.

Increase reliability and security of the power grid. Because they can be designed to be smart and controllable, Superconductor cables can make the power networks in which they are installed self-protecting. Self-protecting secure power networks adjust rapidly and automatically to disruptions in power network equipment caused by weather, willful destruction or other factors.

Significantly lower impedance than conventional cables. Superconductor cables can be placed strategically in the transmission grid to draw flow from overtaxed conventional cables or overhead lines — and relieve network congestion. Very low impedance cables can help solve grid congestion problems and enable implementation of new grid configurations.

Today's congested power grid and environmental pressures are requiring utilities to look for new Smart Grid solutions to solve power flow problems that address the growing concern over siting and quality of life issues in urban and suburban communities. High-capacity, low-impedance Superconductor cables offer significant benefits over conventional overhead transmission lines and copper cables. By replacing copper wire with HTS wire in power cables, these systems are able to carry as much as 10 times more power, making them an ideal soluton for network upgrades and urban retrofit projects. They support load growth, enable cost-effective controllability of power over a meshed grid, and can be implemented with low environmental impact. Major benefits of HTS power cables are:

  • Up to 10 times more power capacity supports new
    generation and load growth

  • High power capacity at lower voltage enables easier siting and reduced ancillary systems costs

  • Ideal solution for breaking urban power bottlenecks

  • Improved, cost-effective control of power flow across meshed grids

  • Extends the operating life of existing high-load corridors

  • No electromagnetic field emissions, no soil heating, and no oil results in low environmental impact

At the heart of the superconductor power cable is HTS wire. Using conventional cable stranding machines, multiple strands of HTS wire are woven into a coaxial configuration. Once woven into a coxial configuration, an HTS cable produces essentially zero Electromagnetic Field (EMF) emissions. The inherently low impedance of this cable assembly enables cost-effective control of power flows over the surrounding grid network. Liquid nitrogen, the dielectric and coolant of choice to maintain the HTS wire at its operating temperature, is inexpensive, abundant and environmentally safe, eliminating the oil used in many conventional power cables in cities around the world.

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