* Enhances Efficiency: Superconductor Electricity Pipelines are able to cut power losses by two to three times when compared with conventional transmission options. This results in improved return-on-investment and reduced carbon emissions.
* Resolves Difficult Siting Problems: Conventional overhead transmission lines require new corridors hundreds of feet wide. The time-consuming and potentially litigious process involved to site these lines is a significant roadblock to developing new renewable power in the U.S. Superconductor Electricity Pipelines can carry thousands of megawatts (many gigawatts) of power in a 25-foot-wide corridor and can be placed in existing railroad and highway rights of way.
* Improves Aesthetics: Conventional high voltage towers are more than 100 feet tall and can significantly impact the aesthetics of neighborhoods, national parks and sensitive wildlife areas. Superconductor Electricity Pipelines are out of sight and out of mind. Unlike overhead power lines, they also are free from electromagnetic fields.
* Increases Security: Ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and terrorism are just a few of the threats to overhead power lines. Given their underground location, Superconductor Electricity Pipelines are out of harm’s way.
Tres Amigas trading hub – which Harris says would be the world’s largest use of superconducting cable – is like an automobile traffic circle. It could bring into the loop up to 5,000 megawatts of power at any one moment from any or all of the three grids. The power would then be sent out to whichever grid needs the electricity.
Tres Amigas will show superconducting technology is indeed a commercially viable alternative and a tremendous step forward in solving the nation’s transmission gridlock,” Harris says. “It should lessen lawsuits. If it’s buried, who cares?”
Eliminating the inefficiencies of traditional copper wires would save around $16 billion a year, estimates the US Department of Energy – and pave the way for long-distance transmission of wind and solar power. Another advantage: Being underground, the cable would be resistant to terrorist strikes.
In papers filed in early December with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Tres Amigas outlined its plans for a $600 million, 15- to 20-mile triangular-shaped hub near Clovis, N.M., constructed using superconducting cable.
“What we’re starting to see is a new phase in commercialization of superconducting cable – not just in this country but globally,” says Daniel McGahn, senior vice president and general manager of American Superconductor in Westborough, Mass