This summer, when demand for electricity to run pool pumps, fans and air conditioners is at its peak, power customers in Albany, New York, US, will get some extra capacity thanks to new technology from BOC and its partners.
The United States\\$quot; fi rst in-grid high temperature superconductivity system has begun operating, providing enough power for more than 70,000 area households.
The system is designed to eliminate the resistance that causes power losses in traditional copper cables. It is the result of a multi-year project, costing some $27 million, between BOC and partners SuperPower, Inc. of Schenectady, New York, US, and Sumitomo Electric Industries of Osaka, Japan.
Between two power substations belonging to electric utility National Grid, and directly below a major interstate highway, superconducting wire is wrapped to
form 350 meters of cable. To achieve superconductivity, or zero resistance, the wire and cables are cooled inside a vacuum jacket containing liquid nitrogen. The
nitrogen is pumped and cooled continuously by an innovative cryogenic system designed by BOC.
It\\$quot;s one of three HTS power projects currently underway in the US, and it has the distinction of being ranked number one in terms of progress by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE partially funded the project, along with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
A growing economy depends on reliable and efficient electricity delivery. One HTS cable can deliver three to five times more power than a conventional cable. This means utilities can accommodate demand increases without having to add multiple distribution lines.
So, why did BOC join the project as opposed to remaining a gas and technology supplier?
For HTS projects to be successful, cryogenic refrigeration system suppliers must take a long-term approach,sharing both risk and reward to ensure the system\\$quot;s continued viability.
The industrial gas majors, with their massive global infrastructure, bring that long-term relationship mindset to the electric utilities who would host HTS systems.
It\\$quot;s an approach cryogenic equipment manufacturers, who operate on a much smaller size and scale, simply aren\\$quot;t capable of providing.
One of the core capabilities gases companies bring is our ability to build and operate massive onsite plants for our customers, supplying them with thousands of
tons a day of gas under long-term contracts. It\\$quot;s a level of risk we\\$quot;re accustoming to shouldering and we\\$quot;re in it for the long-haul.
Other existing capabilities strengthen this relationship. BOC, which for years has been remotely monitoring and controlling its air separation units around the
world, is using that capability to ensure the HTS cable system\\$quot;s reliability. BOC is monitoring the system from its Remote Operating Center in Bethlehem, Pa., where real-time indicators enable operators to make necessary adjustments to the cryogenic system to keep the cable system running.
The startup of this project comes at a time when many of us are working to develop new solutions for our ageing energy infrastructure. The DOE is projecting world electricity demand to grow at an average rate of 2.6 percent per year. And, as we learned from the 2003 blackout that plunged major US and European cities into darkness, sudden rises in demand for electricity can overload generators and trip circuit breakers, causing days of power losses for thousands of people.
This is an important trial, the success of which will help pave the way for the adoption of this technology. It represents a potentially significant market for
BOC. We, along with our partner companies, have developed a system that strengthens and improves our existing electrical system, meeting the increasing
power demands of today\\$quot;s businesses and consumers while providing a sustainable solution for the future.
Integrating HTS cabling
HTS cable is particularly useful in congested urban areas because it can be installed wherever conventional cables currently run, without acquiring new rights-of-way or digging new pathways. In Albany, the HTS cable is underground where electricity bottlenecks typically occur, increasing potential power losses. The cable eliminates those losses, enabling the power level to be maintained throughout the system.