Ampacity walks the superconductor line
RWE recently commissioned the world’s longest superconductor in Essen (Germany), attended by the Premier of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Lord Mayor of Essen, the CEO of RWE, and the head of Nexans Germany. H-G Bednorz (Nobel Prize for Superconductivity) gave a keynote speech.
The system consists of a one-kilometer 10 kV (2300 A) superconducting cable, including a joint and a fault current limiter, cooled by liquid nitrogen. It was designed to replace an HV cable with an MV cable, thus saving space in substations by eliminating the need for transformers and other bulky equipment.
A long step forward
RWE and Nexans have a trusting long-term relationship with regular technical discussions. When our customer detected the need for more power in less space, we were able to demonstrate that this could be achieved through superconductors. To do it, we developed very compact cables and accessories, and customized our fault current limiter (FCL). After extensive testing on a loop in Hanover, the system was built and installed onsite. The system was delivered on time and on budget, and is now fully integrated into RWE’s grid.
Doctor Bednorz expressed his satisfaction for a 30-year-old innovation used in a world-changing application. Yes, superconductors cost more than copper cables. However, the overall picture changes when you take into account saving space, avoiding new civil works, and increasing plant capacity for urban centers in harmony with environmental concerns. With carefully controlled cryogenics, superconducting systems are environmentally-friendly, generating no noise, heat or magnetic field. RWE and Nexans are confident that superconductivity will open up new vistas for tomorrow’s dense city infrastructures.
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