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No. of Recommendations: 2

Here's how i see it...

While i like AMSC as a company with superior technology and good leadership, i think that SC's acceptance in power lines will probably remain a small fraction of this country's power lines for many decades, and the implementation of AMSC's technology in military equipment and vehicles is anything but assured.

There are two competing factors for energy... one is the reliability of the system, and the other is the initial price & complexity VS long term-savings.

Sometimes the most efficient method wins out, sometimes it doesn't. I believe it will depend on government influence (determined by who influences the government), and some by simple cost analysis.


Reliability VS long-term cost advantage (efficiency).

In military applications, reliability is a huge factor, often irrationally so. E.G, thousands are spent on an individual heavy, low-tech piece of equipment instead of hundreds of copies of a functionally similar piece of equipment that is disposable and has a tiny fraction of the same weight. (My case in point being military communications equipment. Often the sheer weight of the device makes it more, not less, liable to damage... a fact overlooked by the Procurement dept.)

HTSC is still pretty da*n cold, and will require expensive, more complex cooling systems. These may eventually be reliable enough to not be an issue in ordinary use, but military equipment is subject to intentional destruction (attack). An SC motor with a damaged cooling system will rapidly self-destruct. A standard copper motor can operate with simple air or water cooling and will have the advantage of better reliability.
Whether the lighter weight and increased efficiency of SC will win out over conventional designs is IMHO dependent primarily on the ruggedness, reliability, and repairability of the cooling system.

Better technology VS political will.

Efficiency and light weight in itself is not going to be enough to win a military contract for that reason and one other... the military can and will be steered by political whim to build exorbitantly expensive, inefficient weapons and transport systems. Whether the Dems or Reps are in charge seems to not be a huge factor historically.

Power Lines & other civilian applications:

Power companies will seek the most reliable system that long-term saves them the most money. If energy is expensive enough, the more complex SC system will win out. If energy is cheap enough, power companies will not care about the additional weight of standard copper and aluminum, except where the weight,size, and emissions are an issue (long spans, urban infrastructure where space is at a premium).
I think there is a very good chance that SC will be adopted by civilian companies for ships because these are not nuclear and therefor must carry the full volume of their fuel with them... thus the savings in efficiency are amplified by the space and weight freed up for cargo.

Over the course of the past hundred years, energy as a percentage of income has decreased in cost substantially. If solar becomes as cheap as predicted by companies developing the new types of cells, then we might conclude that energy lost in transport will be cheap enough as to not really push power companies to buy the more expensive SC. Likewise, if H2 infrastructure and fuel cells are heavily funded by government, the load on power lines will be eased, and they may never be replaced.

(Disc; i own a chunk of AMSC.)



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