A Superconducting Power Grid for New York City 

American Superconductor has signed a contract with Consolidated Edison to develop and deploy a new high temperature superconductor power grid technology in Con Ed's power delivery network in New York City.

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff May 22, 2007

American Superconductor, Westborough, Mass., signed a contract yesterdaySecure Super Grids” in the United States. Secure Super Grids utilize customized HTS wires, HTS power cables and ancillary controls to deliver more power through the grid while also being able to suppress power surges that can disrupt service.

“The Department of Homeland Security is charged with protecting the infrastructure and systems that keep our nation and our economy running smoothly,” said Jay M. Cohen, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The U.S. power grid is one of our most valuable assets, and we are taking the steps necessary – through the use of our most advanced technologies – to ensure its safety. As we saw with the August 2003 blackout and in incidents since, disruptions to the power grid have far-reaching effects and a tremendous economic impact. We have asked AMSC and Consolidated Edison to demonstrate superconductor solutions in New York City that will serve to keep our centers of commerce on line under all conditions – including grid events related to severe weather, accidents or terrorist attacks.”

This endeavor has been code named “Project Hydra” by DHS. Much like the mythical Greek monster that grew back multiple heads when one was severed, multiple paths for electricity flow will be created in power grids to ensure system reliability if circuits were to be disrupted. To view an animation of Secure Super Grids in action, please visit https://www.amsc.com/products/hydra.cfm.

AMSC is the prime contractor for Project Hydra. The company signed a letter contract worth $1.7 million with DHS on May 18, 2007, and work on the project has commenced. Of the $1.7 million, DHS will fund approximately $1.1 million. AMSC and Con Edison signed a separate agreement whereby Con Edison will be a subcontractor to AMSC. Final contract terms and conditions are expected to be completed within 90 days. The total project cost is estimated to be $39.3 million. It is anticipated that DHS would fund up to $25 million of this total.

The deployment of a commercial high-capacity, surge-suppressing HTS cable system in New York City is projected for completion in three years, concurrent with Con Edison’s “System of the Future” grid enhancement plans. The project will occur in two phases. The project’s first phase, which is now underway, focuses on the development and operation of a prototype system. AMSC has applied for a series of patents related to its Secure Super Grids technology and issued a separate press release on the topic this morning. Testing of the first Secure Super Grid system is targeted for completion by the end of 2008.

The second phase of the project will focus on the deployment of the first Secure Super Grid system in Con Edison’s power grid in New York City at an undisclosed location. AMSC will produce the HTS wire, known as 344 superconductors, for the project and will contract with Southwire Company to perform the detailed cable and termination design as well as the manufacture of the superconductor cable. Commissioning of the 13 kilovolt (kV) HTS cable system is expected in early 2010, meeting Con Edison’s construction schedule.