The U.S. Department of Energy will provide up to $51.8 million for five cost-shared projects that will help accelerate much-needed modernization of the nation’s electricity grid. About $30 million will go to design, testing and demonstrations of fault current limiters.

According to the DOE, this research will advance the development and application of high-temperature superconductors, which have the potential to alleviate congestion on an electricity grid that is experiencing increased demand from consumers. Making investments to modernize the electricity grid; securing a diverse and stable supply of reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy; as well as increasing efficiency, are central to the Bush Administration’s effort to increase energy and economic security.

DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) will oversee the research projects. OE leads national efforts to modernize the electric grid; enhance the security and reliability of the energy infrastructure; and facilitate recovery from disruptions to the energy supply.

Selected projects are as follows:

FAULT CURRENT LIMITERS
American Superconductor - (DOE cost share: $12.7 million)
American Superconductor will also address the development and in-grid testing of a three-phase high-voltage, 115-kV fault current limiter, called a SuperLimiter, by using second-generation wire. The SuperLimiter features a proprietary Siemens-developed, low-inductance coil technology that makes the fault current limiter invisible to the grid until it switches to a resistive state. The demonstration will occur at a location operated by team member Southern California Edison. The team also includes: Nexans (France), the University of Houston (Houston, TX), Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM), and Siemens AG (Germany).

SC Power Systems - (DOE cost share: $11 million)
On the Southern California Edison grid, SC Power Systems (San Mateo, CA) will design, test, and demonstrate a 138-kV saturable reactor-type fault current limiter. In this type of fault current limiter, a high-temperature superconductor is used with a direct current power supply to saturate an iron core that interfaces with the line in which the current is to be limited. SC Power’s team includes: DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM); Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (Allentown, PA); Cryo-Industries of America Inc. (Manchester, NH); Consolidated Edison Company (New York, NY); California Edison Inc. (Rosemead, CA); Delta Star Inc. (San Carlos, CA); and Trithor GmbH (Germany).

SuperPower Inc. - (DOE cost share: $5.8 million)
SuperPower Inc. (Schenectady, NY) will design, test, and demonstrate on the American Electric Power grid a 138-kV fault current limiter that features a matrix design consisting of parallel “second-generation” high-temperature superconductor elements and conventional coils. SuperPower’s team includes: Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. (Osaka, Japan); Nissan Electric Co. Ltd. (Kyoto, Japan); The BOC Group Inc. (Murray Hill, NJ); American Electric Power (Gahanna, OH); and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN).