American Superconductor Corp., a global energy technologies company, announced on Oct. 13 that Superconductor Electricity Pipelines have been chosen for The Tres Amigas Project, the nation's first renewable energy market hub.
Superconductor Electricity Pipelines comprise transmission-level direct current (DC) superconductor power cables powered by AMSC high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire and high-powered voltage-source AC/DC power converters. The Tres Amigas Project focuses on uniting Americas three power grids for the first time to enable faster adoption of renewable energy and increase the reliability of the U.S. grid.
The Tres Amigas renewable energy market hub will be constructed in Clovis, New Mexico, a location that has easy access to all three of the nation's power grids.
The three U.S. power grids -- or "Interconnections" -- are known as the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection (also known as the Eastern Reliability Council of Texas.
Power transmission within these three power grids is accomplished primarily utilizing alternating current (AC) power transmission lines. Power transfer between any two of the Interconnections, however, can only be accomplished through special power electronic conversion stations. This is commonly achieved by first converting AC power in one grid to DC as an intermediate power form at a substation, then reconverting from DC back to AC before reaching the adjacent grid.
This, in effect, synchronizes power flows. While there are several relatively small bilateral "DC Links" existing today between two Interconnections, all three Interconnections have never been united by one system.
Similar to highway rotaries used for traffic flow control, multiple power transmission lines from each of the Interconnections will feed power into and out of the Tres Amigas SuperStation through multiple AC/DC converters, each connected by DC superconductor cables. Tres Amigas, which will be a balancing authority, will help ensure the efficient and reliable flow of power from multiple renewable generation sources in all three power grids to customers across a wide area of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.