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

September 03, 2003

DOE Project to Use Superconductors to Protect the Power Grid

Intermagnetics General Corporation (IGC) announced on August 14th that DOE will fund half the cost of a $12 million project to develop a fault-current limiter for power transmission systems. The device will draw on high-temperature superconductor (HTS) technology developed by SuperPower, Inc. (an IGC subsidiary) to help protect high-voltage utility grids from damaging surges in current. The company hopes to install a prototype 138-kilovolt system at a utility transmission substation by 2006. SuperPower is also leading another DOE project to install an HTS cable in an electrical distribution system in Albany, New York. See the IGC press release.

Meanwhile, General Electric (GE) is putting HTS technology to work at the generation end of the power supply by developing an HTS generator. GE tested a 1.8-megavolt-ampere (MVA) proof-of-concept generator that uses a coil of HTS cables for its rotor, the part of the generator that spins inside a fixed magnetic field in order to generate electricity. The 1.8-MVA generator is one step on the way to producing a utility-scale 100-MVA generator by 2005. See the GE press release.

HTS cables can carry high currents with low energy losses. When applied to electrical machinery, HTS technology can increase the machinery's energy efficiency and reduce the size and weight of the equipment. For more information, see the project fact sheets on the DOE Superconductivity for Electric Systems Web site.