ComEd and federal partners debut superconductor technology to enhance grid resilience

Published on October 04, 2021 by Chris Galford

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ComEd, together with the United States Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Energy (DOE), showcased high-temperature superconductor technology last week pitched as a higher voltage means of enhancing grid reliability and resisting threats to the grid.

DHS helped fund the Resilient Electric Grid (REG) system as it was developed by the American Superconductor Company (AMSC), while ComEd became the first utility to deploy the REG system into its grid. That system distinguishes itself by utilizing a high-temperature superconductor wire capable of supporting 200 times the voltage of standard copper wire, thanks to a process that injects liquid nitrogen into the wire assembly. Such a level of cold lets it eliminate electric resistance and energy loss.

“ComEd is providing our customers record levels of reliability, but we need to embrace innovation to continue to enhance the power grid and deliver the results families and businesses depend on,” Terence Donnelly, president and COO of ComEd, said. “We are grateful to DHS for its investment in this technology, and we are proud to be the first utility in the nation to permanently install it into the grid.”

The collaborators showed off the technology at a conference hosted by ComEd. Over the next year, the company will test and monitor the system, including by connecting it to multiple substations. This will allow it to create a back-up system and keep power moving in case of a major power grid failure.

“Traditional grid design has called for isolating substations, which enables utilities to protect their systems but that prevents them from being able to reroute power from one substation to another,” Daniel McGahn, chairman, president and CEO of AMSC, said. “The REG system allows for substations to be interconnected, creating the flexibility to provide a pathway to move power from one substation to another. Utilities that have deployed innovative technology, like ComEd, are well positioned to benefit from the REG system and enhance service to customers.”