4 transmission technologies to watch

As Congress, the Department of Energy, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission move to stimulate new transfers, efforts are being made to improve existing transfer assets and expand where they may be.

For example, transmission developers are increasingly seeking to “share the right of way” by negotiating directly with railways and state road stakeholders to use these corridors to lay power lines, according to Kevin Ludwig, vice president and vice president of Black. & Veatch. Ludwig added that it was also aimed at using inland waterways with submarine cables that are connected to a high-voltage DC transmission system to move large amounts of energy.

In terms of existing transmission technology, high-temperature low-deflection conductors are deployed in niche cases, mostly when transmission owners seek to push more power in the corridor or need transmission for long-distance transmission but are limited by special transitions, he said. Ludwig. Such conductors have a heat-resistant composite rod, rather than steel, which is commonly used for constructive support of lines, which allows you to push a line of greater power without expanding and sagging.

“The barrier to wider migration to low-temperature, low-deflection conductors is their cost and the special tools / equipment needed for installation,” Ludwig said. But there are new developments in this space that allow you to install a composite conductor with the same tools / equipment as traditional conductors with the benefits of working at high temperatures. Separately, there are advances in conductor monitoring technology that allow you to adjust the rating in real time, rather than a static rating, which is often based on the worst conditions that exist for only a small part of the year. This technology allows for an additional flow of energy without any investment in new conductors and will be deployed by utilities as a result of ordering FERC 881 to improve transmission line performance.

Elsewhere, Ludwig said pilot projects are being implemented with high-temperature superconducting power lines with underground infrastructure cooled by liquid nitrogen, allowing the transmission to have almost zero resistance. In addition, AC lines – typically controlled by switches that allow operators to only turn lines on or off – are becoming more dynamic with controls that can adjust power flow by adjusting line impedance, similar to using a valve to regulate water flow. .

Among the companies creating new transmission-related technologies that help utilities are four:

1. The New Network

NewGrid’s solutions for monitoring congestion and mitigation for the network use “operational optimization of transmission topology,” said Todd Olmendinger, director of consulting and research at Cleantech Group. This avoids congestion and reductions affecting renewable power plants by redirecting flow around bottlenecks. This is done by opening and closing transmission chains, similar to traffic lights in a big city.

2. Pearl Street Technology

The company applies the techniques used in circuit design and modeling of computer chips to network planning, Almendinger said. “They have developed a physical network model that can run simulation and optimization scenarios for long-term planning.

Initially, targeting the U.S. transmission network is a smart move by the firm, given its federally regulated nature and thus the ability to access clean data nationwide, ”he said. With initial funding raised in January Allmendinger notes that part of their importance to those who own and operate transmission and distribution systems: their long-term vision is to “become the only window for real-time monitoring planning for all distributions , transmission and micronetwork, ”he said.

Pearl automates the creation of basic option planning models for customers who are tired of the traditional “handmade” approach, which costs more than staff time. These models have become a boon for clients looking to cut costs and increase the efficiency of planning new investments, including transmission projects and other projects. But one potential drawback of automating baseline planning models is the problem that arises whenever poor quality data is used early in the process when baseline options are formed.

3. T. S. Conductor

The California-based company is upgrading existing technology for the transmission of conductors and steel-based wires – a segment of the network that has changed little over a century.

According to founder and CEO Jason Huang, the company is producing a new type of electrical conductor (used in transmission and distribution networks) that can increase the capacity of existing lines by 2.5 times without having to modify or upgrade existing ancillary infrastructure (e.g. poles, towers). “This allows network operators to come to terms with the large increase in renewable energy production in the grid with minimal additional costs for electricity consumers,” Juan said. This is becoming important as much more of these resources appear online over the next few years. Thus, one of the benefits of TS technology is that it opens up a limited power grid at the lowest possible cost to allow renewable generation to make its way to customers, said Herve Tuati, TS’s chief strategic officer.

Last December, TS saw three partners – Breakthrough Energy Ventures, National Grid Partners and subsidiary NextEra Energy – fund its $ 25 million investment round. Touati is quickly pointing to the potential implications of their technology for network sustainability. At a time when there is a growing demand for equipment that withstands extreme weather conditions, TS conductors are 2.4 times stronger than their steel-core equivalents, which have been used for transmission and distribution networks since the early 20th century.

Global warming causes the wires to heat up, which means they can handle less capacity. Tuati says that “TS conductors have a thermal expansion that is much lower than the thermal expansion of steel – 193 times lower to be specific. As a result, TS conductors are much less susceptible to sagging at higher temperatures.”

TS Conductor was chosen by PG&E to put out the fire. The specific technology that has been chosen is intelligent indoor TS conductors. Tuati explained that “the conductors are protected on the outside by insulation (” coated “) and contain optical fiber inside, which acts as a sensor to detect elevated temperatures or other anomalies in the line. The purpose is for the PG&E distribution network, not the transmission network.”

Larry Milosevic, meindependent advocate for energy policy and energy regulation, met with TS Conductor as a participant in the State Utility Commission’s review of Xcel Energy’s bid to build a 560-mile power line worth $ 1.7 billion called the Colorado Power Pathway. The line will gain access to high-quality renewable resources in eastern Colorado.

“Previously, I didn’t know about a carbon rod conductor as an alternative to traditional steel rods [aluminum conductor steel reinforced] The ACSR transmission line, however … based on engineering data it quickly became clear that [the] carbon conductor, and [the] In particular, the leader of the vehicle is the future of power lines, ”Milashevich said.

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