Among all the interesting presentations at this month’s AWEA transmission and wind workshop, American Superconductor‘s presentation about developments with superconducting transmission lines was particularly noteworthy. Superconducting direct current lines offer greater efficiency, as well as siting and aesthetics benefits, but have historically fallen victim to much higher costs when compared to traditional overhead transmission lines. However, with talks of extra-high voltage "green superhighways" transmitting renewable energy from the nation’s interior to load zones, it appears from American Superconductor that the costs of a 5 GW, 200 kV superconductor line are nearly equivalent to 765 kV overhead lines when built on a 1,000 mile scale. Perhaps we will see a superconducting pipeline instead of an extra-high voltage overlay.
For more information about the viability of superconducting transmission lines, look for American Superconductor’s White Paper in the near future.