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Article RSE 15002863

High Temperature Superconductors: Overview of HTS power system applications


L'Energia Elettrica , vol. 92 N. 4, pp. 31-46, Luglio/Agosto -2015.

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L. Martini (RSE SpA)

MAT4-GRID 2015 - Components for the grids

This paper provides a summary of the main on-going projects worldwide, that are aimed at developing and in-field testing HTS components and that are potentially able of contributing to the future evolution of transmission and distribution electric power systems.

Superconductivity represents a type of technology that featured excellent performances in very particular applications characterized by large dimensions and large-scale deployment, as particles accelerators and MRI.

The continuous improvement of new High Temperature Superconductors (HTS) materials, that allow using a relatively cheap coolant as liquid nitrogen, makes easier the large penetration of superconductors in the electric power systems. In any case, the competition with traditional technologies, that have been continuously improving thanks to the design and in-field operation experience, represents a significant challenge, that prompts the HTS prototypes designers to figure-out solutions as close as possible to industrial standards in terms of performances and reliability.

Anyway the challenge has been accepted and the significant number of activities and projects in progress for the development and in-field trial-test of HTS components and devices proves the industrial interest for the live-grid installation of such innovative devices as a chance to improve the transportation capability, the safety and flexibility of the transmission/distribution systems.

The most clear application is given by the superconducting cables, that, thanks to the high current density and low losses, feature an excellent environmentally-friendly transportation capability from the thermal and electromagnetic pint of view: these properties pave the way for the integration in the power systems typical of very populous regions, that can typically reach a very high complexity.

A significant attention is also devoted to the development and potential live-grid integration of fault current limiters devices, storage devices and rotating machines. This contribution reports on some of the main international projects classified on the basis of nationality and HTS device typology, therefore it provides an example of the on-going activities for the development of HTS demonstrators and for their applications.

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