In a significant boost to the emerging high temperature superconducting wire sector, American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC), a leading supplier of super-conducting wire, announced that LS Cable Ltd. (LS Cable) has ordered approximately 80,000 meters of its 344 superconductors, AMSC’s proprietary brand of second generation (2G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire.

Superconducting cables are poised to play a critical and important role in the evolving smart grid. Superconducting cables are capable of carrying much more current and have significantly lower impedance than conventional cables.  As a result they facilitate more efficient AC power flows within the grid. They have also been proposed to be the basis of an envisioned High-Voltage/ Direct Current HV/DC grid backbone to shuttle renewable power over long distances with relatively little line loss. In addition HTS wire offers the possibility of significant improvements for many important parts of the smart grid infrastructure including: motors, transformers, fault current limiters, synchronous condensers, and both conventional and wind turbine generators.

To explore the huge potential and future significance of the smart grid in more detail see our article: The Green Economy Will Need a Smart Grid…and Building it will be Big Business

Under the terms of the contract, AMSC will deliver the wire to LS Cable by the end of 2009. LS Cable will then strand the wire into a 22.9 kilovolt (kV) superconductor cable system capable of carrying 50 megawatts of power. The cable system will be nearly a half mile in length, making it the world’s longest distribution-voltage superconductor cable system. It is scheduled to be installed by the middle of 2010 and energized in one of Seoul’s largest satellite cities by the end of 2010. This is the single largest commercial order for 2G HTS wire in the world.

“With the ability to carry vast amounts of electricity in a small right of way, superconductor power cables will play a pivotal role in powering cities in Korea and around the world in the 21st Century,” said Joon Hyung Cho, Executive Vice President of LS Cable’s Technology Development Group. “We have chosen to work with AMSC on this landmark cable project based on the company’s two decades of superconductor leadership, its contributions to LS Cable’s past superconductor cable demonstrations and the strength of its new 344 superconductors. We see a billion-dollar opportunity for superconductor cable technology and believe our alliance with AMSC and KEPCO establishes a market leadership position for LS Cable.”

A power cable made with HTS wire inside can conduct up to 10 times the amount of power of the same diameter cable made with copper wire inside. By replacing copper cables with high-capacity superconductor cables in cities using existing underground tunnels and ductwork, utilities can avoid digging up city streets while also relieving grid congestion and increasing the reliability and security of power networks.

“As is the case in many countries around the world, Korea has been experiencing sharp increases in electricity demand and is relying more and more on renewable energy sources to meet that demand,” said KEPCO Chief Executive Officer Kim Ssang-Su. “With their ability to carry a vast amount of power in a small pathway, we see great promise for superconductor cable technology and look forward to energizing this first system.”

This project builds on the success Korea’s Development of Advanced Power Systems by Applied Superconductivity technologies (DAPAS) program, which has provided more than $100 million in funding for the development and commercialization of superconductor systems. In 2006, LS Cable and the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) successfully tested a 30-meter, 22.9kV superconductor cable. In 2007, LS Cable and KERI completed testing of a 100-meter, 22.9 kV superconductor cable system. Both of these projects were powered by AMSC’s first generation HTS wire and funded by the DAPAS program.

The cable installation in Korea also follows several recent superconductor cable deployments in U.S. power grids that have been partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. National Grid and American Electric Power (AEP) energized distribution-voltage superconductor cable systems in their commercial power grids in Albany, New York and Columbus, Ohio, respectively, in 2006. The world’s first transmission-voltage cable system was energized on Long Island in April 2008. This 138 kV system is a permanent part of Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) primary transmission corridor. At full capacity, LIPA’s power cable system is capable of transmitting up to 574 MW of electricity and powering 300,000 homes. Another superconductor cable project is now ongoing with Consolidated Edison in Manhattan with partial funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“This commercial wire order is a significant step forward for the superconductor industry,” said Dan McGahn, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AMSC Superconductors. “In addition to being the largest order of its kind, our 344 superconductors will power the first superconductor cable to be installed in a commercial grid outside of the U.S. We see compelling growth opportunities for our superconductor business in Korea, and we are delighted to be working with industry leaders LS Cable and KEPCO on this important project.” AMSC commissioned its 344 superconductors pilot production line in late 2007. The wire is made using a proprietary wide strip approach that significantly reduces manufacturing costs and is expected to be utilized in many applications, including power cables, motors, generators, fault current limiters and electromagnets.

© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Chris de Morsella (146 Articles)

After a decade performing as a lead guitarist for rock bands, Chris de Morsella decided to return to the career his uncle mentored him in as a youth....Software Engineering. Since that time he has thrown himself into his work. He has designed a compound document publishing architecture for regulatory submissions capable of handling very large multi-document FDA regulatory drug approval submissions, for Liquent, a division of Thompson Publishing. At the Associated Press, Chris worked with senior editors at facilities around the world, to develop a solution for replacing existing editorial systems with an integrated international content management solution. He lead the design effort at Microsoft for a help system for mobile devices designed to provide contextual help for users. Chris also helped to develop the web assisted installer for LifeCam2.0, the software for Microsoft’s web cam and developed late breaking features for the product He also served with the Rhapsody client team to redesign and build a major new release of Real Networks Rhapsody client product. His most recent assignment has been Working with the Outlook Mobile Time Management team for the next release of Outlook Mobile for the SmartPhone. Chris' interests are in green building and architecture, smart grid, the cloud, geo-thermal energy, solar energy, smart growth, organic farming and permaculture. Follow Chris on Twitter.