SuperPower Inc. announced that it is partnering in a US$21.5 million smart grid demonstration project awarded by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The project with SPX business unit, Waukesha Electric Systems of Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., will demonstrate a smart grid-compatible fault current limiting (FCL) superconducting transformer that will help improve the stability and reliability of the U.S. electric grid.

In making the announcement, Secretary Chu said, “These demonstration projects will further our knowledge and understanding of what works best and delivers the best results for the smart grid, setting the course for a modern grid that is critical to achieving our energy goals.”

Arthur P. Kazanjian, general manager at SuperPower, stated, “We are delighted to work with Waukesha to add the superconducting transformer, with a unique FCL function, to the smart grid technology portfolio. Building on our prior work on superconducting transformer and fault current limiter development, SuperPower will optimize our second-generation high-temperature superconducting (2G HTS) wire to provide a unique ‘low ac loss’ conductor that will significantly reduce energy losses in the proposed 28-MVA utility-scale transformer. It is estimated that 40% of the nation's total grid energy losses are from aging conventional transformers and that the use of superconducting transformers could reduce energy losses on the grid by one-third — equivalent to eliminating about 15 million tons of CO2 annually.”

Waukesha Electric is the project lead for this effort. In addition to SuperPower, other project participants include the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston to lead the wire development effort for SuperPower, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to provide technical expertise in applied superconductivity, cryogenics and high-voltage dielectrics.

The 28-MVA three-phase transformer will be installed at the Southern California Edison utility substation by the end of 2012 and will integrate smart grid communication and control instrumentation. A two-year test period will provide real-time data to validate smart grid business models, system performance, energy savings, and improvements in power quality and reliability.

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