This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 27, 2008

Superconducting Cable Project Points to More Efficient Grid

DOE and SuperPower, Inc. commemorated on February 21 a $27 million project to install a 350-meter high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable between two electrical substations in Albany. While that might not sound like much cable for the money, the project is the first demonstration of a technology that could someday be used to build a more energy efficient power grid. The HTS cable reduces energy loss by up to 10%, and wires using the same technology could potentially be integrated into generators, transformers, cables, and fault current limiters, making most of the equipment that produces and delivers power more energy efficient. On the other end of the power line, HTS wires can be employed in motors, providing an energy efficiency improvement for one of the largest electrical loads served by electric utilities.

The Albany project is actually in its second phase. Back in 2006, two lengths of cable were installed using first-generation HTS wire, but that cable was replaced last year with the second-generation HTS wire, which is expected to compete better with copper wire due to a combination of high performance and a lower price than first-generation HTS wire. SuperPower is also doing its best to take advantage of DOE research, having licensed technology from two of DOE's national laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. See the press releases from DOE and SuperPower.