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Superconducting Wires To Bolster Chicago Grid Resilience


By Greg Zimmerman Energy Efficiency
energy resilience partnership

Improved grid resilience and better efficiency are two of the promises of the ultimate goal of the smart grid. For facility managers, smart grid has many advantages, including real-time pricing and the resulting cost-savings from optimizing energy use, better and more efficient use of renewables, and better grid reliability and resilience.

A recently announced project  in Chicago will increase the city’s smart grid capabilities by adding superconducting wires to the electricity grid. The wires will add resiliency and make it easier and more efficient to incorporate renewables at scale.

The project is the result of a partnership between utility ComEd and American Superconductor and will include wires called Amperium made from a superconducting material that reduces heat loss and is far more efficient than copper or aluminum. Traditional copper or aluminum wires heat up as they transmit power and in the process lose energy — a kind of leaky water main that can amount to a 10 percent loss.

The Amperium wires also allow for all substations to be interconnected, giving the grid 100 percent redundancy. The project is expected to be completed in 2021.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.

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