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Power United States

High-Temp Superconductors To Connect Power Grids 332

Posted by timothy
from the what've-y'-got-t'-swop? dept.
physburn writes "Somewhere in a triangle between Roswell (UFO) NM, Albuquerque (Left Turn) NM, and Amarillo (Do you know the way?) TX, a 22.5 square mile triangle of High Temperature Superconductor pipeline is to be built. Each leg of the triangle can carry 5GW of electricity. The purpose to load-balance and sell electricity between America's three power grids. Previously the Eastern Grid, Western Grid and Texan Grid have been separate, preventing cheap electricity being sold from one end of America to the other. The Tres Amiga Superstation, as it is to be called, will finally connect the three grids. The superstation is also designed to link renewable solar and wind power in the grids, and is to use HTS wire from American Superconductor. Some 23 years after its invention, today HTS comes of age. "
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High-Temp Superconductors To Connect Power Grids

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  • Re:Four words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by belthize (990217) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:23PM (#29733929)

    Meh, why is that getting flagged as insightful.

    The current cynicism that any improvement in infrastructure is
    a) only for the money
    b) going to ruin the planet
    c) a target for terrorists
    d) too late

    is getting really old.

    The proposal allows for better distribution of power generation across the continent. Even if it was a target for terrorism so what. If you want to curl up in a little ball because the terrorists might get you knock yourself out.

    BTW, knocking this section out doesn't take all 3 grids down.

  • Re:blackouts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:32PM (#29734073)
    Does that honestly seem to you like such a huge and difficult problem that couldn't possibly be safeguarded against or solved that we should forgo the ability to provide cheaper electricity across the country? I feel like there's probably been an Engineer or two that's looked at the whole changing demands on a power grid problem during the last half century or so.
  • Re:Four words: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:34PM (#29734111)

    Central Point of Failure.

    Actually, if you read the article, sounds like they're wiring it "delta" as opposed to "wye" so any individual cut merely reroutes around the long way... And yes I am very well aware that "delta" and "wye" means something very specific w/ regards to three phase power, I was just using the names for topological reference.

  • by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:36PM (#29734131)

    Won't increasing efficiency lower energy prices? Am I right in thinking that there really isn't any incentive for power companies to do this?

    You're not right. From TFS/TFA, there's currently no link between the three different power grids. The incentive for the corporations to back this is the potential for them to save money (by buying power from other grids during peak times, rather than building more power plants to make up for the shortfall), and the potential to make money (by selling power to other grids during off-peak hours).

    As an example, TX can sell power to the north during the winter to help cover the increased cost of heating, and they can buy power in the summer to help cover the cost of air conditioning. Also, the East can sell to the West when it's 1am on the East Coast (most people in bed, off-peak hours), but still 10pm in California. Likewise, California can sell to the east when it's 5am there (people are still asleep), but 8am in the east.

    All in all, it should make a *huge* difference for their bottom lines, while also helping the environment by reducing the amount of power that we have to generate. :)

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:46PM (#29734281)
    Naiive question, but what limits the capacity of superconductor? With no resistance, therefore no overheating, what stops it from being able to carry even more?
  • Re:Four words: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:53PM (#29734363) Homepage

    BTW, knocking this section out doesn't take all 3 grids down.

    You mean it doesn't necessarily take all 3 grids down, if it's not designed to.

    Well, I would design it to. And I would have a big switch where one setting was "America On" and the other would say "America Off". And it would be on the outside of the fence.

    Which is probably why they never let me design anything. :(

  • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:53PM (#29734367)

    Perhaps the components which are plugged in at either end of the superconductor?

  • Re:blackouts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:05PM (#29735309)
    So you would suggest this problem is so large and dangerous that each small region of the country should produce energy for themselves only and no energy trading should occur or do you only wish to address the first half of my sentence? Yes, there's risk, yes, it's a difficult problem. But the question at hand is whether it's so risky and dangerous that we should avoid it and forgo the benefits.

    Personally I see one bad cascade failure amongst years of presumably lower energy prices and more efficient use of energy resources.
  • by asaz989 (901134) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:58PM (#29737957)
    Except that R is not (quite) zero; the graphs of resistance against temperature, magnetic field, etc. shows a sharp drop to negligible values at critical temperature, magnetic field, etc., but negligible != 0.
  • by insecuritiez (606865) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @06:15PM (#29738183)

    My fault. I searched the article for "phase" and decided it didn't have the information. Instead of phase, the article said:

    ...This, in effect, synchronizes power flows.

    Sad that the media thinks the average American doesn't know what the term phase means. Even sadder is that they are probably right.

  • Re:Four words: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:15PM (#29739847)

    How does connecting three previously (more or less) independent power grids produce a single point of failure? If you blow up this thing you end up with... what exists now.

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