Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 10
I shot off an email to AMSC regarding the article I quoted and the ensuing discussion that took place between myself, billgru and chelsibei.

I've always valued the Fool for the people and the ability to learn from others. What's important is the truth and for everyone to learn from it. Even if it means wiping yolk off one's face. Turns out I was wrong and you two are correct. Read the following response I got;


Thanks for the note Mr. Headrick. We are indeed very aware of the California situation and we're looking at how to apply our existing commercial technology -- distributed superconducting magnetic energy
storage, or D-SMES -- to the situation. D-SMES allows utilities to expand the "bandwidth" of existing lines and pump more power over existing routes before they construct new capacity. HTS cable is still pre commercial as you know, and it will be a number of years before it could address long-distance transmission requirements. But our analysis shows that the problems on the California grid are largely related to the kind of stability issues that D-SMES addresses.

If you aren't familiar with D-SMES I suggest
you visit the "Products and Solutions" section of the company's website. From the home page you can also go directly to an up-to-date case study of our Wisconsin Public Service D-SMES installation which is operating
beautifully. Between the difficult power market conditions in California and elsewhere and the maturation of our technology, we see a significant
opportunity ahead and we aim to do our best to capitalize on it.

Thanks for your interest and support.

John Howe
American Superconductor

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2001 2:02 PM
To: jhowe@amsuper.com
Subject: Have you seen this?


Today, Sunday Feb.11, 2001, there is a story in local paper that they ran from the AP Wire titled "Lawmakers need quick fix for power problems caused
by years of neglect." Because of copyright issues I will only reprint a small portion, as follows;

Recent events also have underscored the frailty of the transmission system, whose backbone is 26,000 miles of high-voltage lines cobbled together over the last 50 years. It's a system that continues to fall prey to severe bottlenecks that restrict the flow of electricity. Inability to move power from Southern California, for example, contributed to blackouts in Northern California last month. The southern part of the state, meanwhile, escaped outages.

Some experts say the state also needs thousands of miles of new transmission lines, an expensive fix that is certain to meet resistance from residents opposed to high-voltage lines near their neighborhoods.
Lawmakers want the state to play a larger role in the electricity business by acquiring transmission lines now owned by PG&E and Southern California Edison.

This sounds like a golden opportunity for AMSC. I'm just a shareholder but one has to wonder if AMSC hears this clarion call. Mr. Yurek extolls the virtues of how AMSC power cables could indirectly and directly address every concern listed in this news clip. More power through less cable. Reduce the need to expand the "over-head" transmission architecture into suburbia and not only avoid the need for new expensive right-of-ways but actually free them up.

Mr. Thomas L. Headrick
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I shot off an email to AMSC regarding the article I quoted and the ensuing discussion that took place between myself, billgru and chelsibei.

I've always valued the Fool for the people and the ability to learn from others. What's important is the truth and for everyone to learn from it. Even if it means wiping yolk off one's face. Turns out I was wrong and you two are correct. Read the following response I got;


No need for any apologies. It was a great question and I appreciate your diligence in following up with AMSC. We need more Fools who ask thoughtful questions. Let's hope AMSC can take advantage of the opportunity for SMES systems in California and elsewhere. For myself, I'll be hanging on to AMSC for at least the next 3-5 years with the expectation that this technology will prove to be extremely useful in resolving our power problems.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I missed the original source message and did not see it in this thread. Was there any mention of cost reductions from charging the SMES with cheaper "off-peak" power from the wholesale generators and reselling it during the day at peak rates?

CoyoteMoney
Itching to Conduct
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 9
(Caution: This is a longish post that focuses mainly on the tech side of AMSC's SuperConducting Magnetic Energy Storage product lines.)

A few points:

1. SMES units wouldn't normally be "charged" at off-peak rates then discharged during peak times like the good Coyote mentioned. (D-)SMES just don't have that much energy storage capability. They operate in a much faster time frame (i.e. milliseconds) to perform actions like restoring power during irregularities. This leads to the second point.

2. The ability to solve "stability" issues was mentioned in the AMSC reply to TH's query. While the AMSC folks didn't tech up the answer, the board seems to need some more details to get a better understanding of how a SMES unit can help with constrained long-distance transmission systems.

Depending on the "electrical" length of a transmission line, the utilities can only send so much power down the line. This power level is referred to as the stability limit, and is usually much less current than the wires can carry. (A car analogy fits: Your tires may be rated for 150 mph, but the suspension won't keep the car on the road above 80mph. It starts wobbling and feels "unstable".) If a power system becomes unstable it does the equivalent of running off the road: it breaks up into islands and/or blacks out.

The SMES units would improve system stability by making the transmission lines appear electrically shorter, in the power transfer sense. The SMES is located along the power line and acts as a buffer which, in that very short time frame of milliseconds, stores or releases electric power to the line, in a fashion that actively stabilizes the system. Thus, more power can be sent over the same long line -- like the big overhead ones feeding California.

3. The superconducting cables, primarly indicated for use in urban areas, cover the other end of the problem -- where the utility company can't physically push enough amps into the wire to meet demand. This isn't usually a stability problem. This is a "wire gets too hot and burns up because its overloaded" problem. Best analogy: too many Christmas lights on one puny extension cord. You can feel the heat from the wire and know you have a problem.
HTS cables address this by increasing current carrying capability (2x-5x) using the existing underground ducts.

Just my 0.02,
Steve
Print the post Back To Top