Superconducting transmission cable reaches commercialization

The first application of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable in a commercial power grid was commissioned this spring by the Long Island Power Authority.


The first application of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable in a commercial power grid was commissioned this spring by the Long Island Power Authority. The 138 kV system can transmit up to 574 MW when operating at full capacity.

HTS cable is seen as one potential resource for addressing today’s transmission-congestion concerns because the material can conduct up to 150 times the electricity of similarly sized copper wires, according to cable manufacturer American Superconductor Corp., Devens, Mass. The cable is installed with a liquid nitrogen refrigeration system to maintain the core at cryogenic temperatures.

HTS cables provide an increase in power capacity at lower voltages, enabling easier siting and making it an ideal solution for reducing urban power bottlenecks. Proven to extend the operating life of high-load corridors, the cables also manage to maintain a low impact on the environment.

The U.S. Dept. of Energy helped fund the $58.5 million project. A second phase will involve replacing one of the existing cable’s phases with a new cable from American Superconductor’s second-generation offering. The system also will incorporate the company’s Secure Super Grids technology, which is designed to suppress service-disrupting power surges.

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