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World’s first power transmission cable made with 2G HTS wire has been tested successfully by AMSC and Nexans

09 May 2007

American Superconductor Corporation a leading energy technologies company, and Nexans, the worldwide leader in the cable industry, have tested successfully the world’s first power transmission cable made with second generation (2G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire. The cable was produced by Nexans utilizing AMSC’s proprietary 2G HTS wire known as “344 superconductors.”

The 30 metre-long transmission voltage cable was tested successfully at Nexans’ high-voltage facility in Hannover, Germany. Operated at 138 kV, the cable contained only 33 hair-thin 344 superconductors, yet it demonstrated the capability to transmit 435 MVA of power – enough electricity to power over 250,000 homes. This rating is approximately 50 per cent higher than conventional cables at the same voltage level.

“The demonstration of a power transmission cable that utilizes AMSC’s proprietary 344 superconductors is an important milestone and paves the way for large-scale, commercial utility projects,” said Greg Yurek, founder and CEO of AMSC. “We have achieved commercial-grade electrical performance with our 344 superconductors, and have proved that our manufacturing methodologies are on the way to achieving cost targets that are expected to enable broad application of this technology in power grids.”

This demonstration confirms that 344 superconductors are a drop-in replacement for the first generation HTS wire that has been utilized to manufacture all prototype HTS power cables worldwide over the past 10 years. AMSC said it expects to initiate volume production of 344 superconductors in December 2007 to meet the expected demand for HTS wire for power cables and other applications. High-capacity superconductor power cables are expected to be utilized first in cities and metropolitan areas, where demand for electricity continues to grow and is putting pressure on existing power grids.

“Nexans has always been committed to providing the utility industry with advanced technologies, and HTS power cables are among our most promising offerings,” said Pascal Portevin, Executive Vice President, Strategic Operations. “The ability to carry a large amount of electricity through small corridors is incredibly appealing for urban and metropolitan power grids. Making the transition from first generation to second generation HTS wire proved to be seamless for our cable manufacturing team, and we are very happy with the cable’s performance. Based on these results and the anticipated success of the first generation138kV HTS cable system we are installing with AMSC in the commercial grid of Long Island Power Authority, we are clearly on a path to finalize development and introduce HTS cables made with 344 superconductors in utility power grids.”

This first HTS transmission cable made with 344 superconductors was privately financed by Nexans and AMSC to demonstrate that they are a form, fit and function replacement for AMSC’s first generation HTS wire, and the project has confirmed they could be used readily in the production of power transmission cables employing the same manufacturing techniques developed for cables made with first generation wire.

AMSC’s 344 superconductors were designed as a drop-in replacement for customers currently using 1G HTS wire. The 344 superconductors comprise 2G HTS wire clad with ultra-thin strips of copper or stainless steel. 344 superconductors offer significantly higher power density and efficiency compared with similar copper-based wire products. As a result, electrical systems that incorporate HTS wire are dramatically smaller, lighter and more cost effective than comparable systems based on copper wire. The applications for HTS wire include power transmission and distribution cables, propulsion motors and generators, degaussing cable systems, synchronous condensers and fault current limiters.

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