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Superconductors Enter Commercial Utility Service

American Superconductor and Long Island Power Authority commission the grid's first transmission cable

2 min read
Superconductors Enter Commercial Utility Service

2 July 2008--Last Wednesday, American Superconductor officially commissioned the world's first high-temperature superconductor power-transmission cable system to be used in a commercial power grid. Superconductors can supply lots of energy quickly, efficiently, and unobtrusively. They conduct 150 times the electricity of similarly sized copper wires. However, because of technological difficulties, the commercial development of superconductor power-cable systems has been slow.

The system commissioned last week, part of the Long Island Power Authority's grid and funded by the Department of Energy, consists of three cables operating at 138 kilovolts. It was energized in April 2008 and has the ability to power 300 000 homes when operating at full capacity.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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