Saving the Grid From Ugly Overhead Wires

This week, American Semiconductor received its largest order yet–over 3 million meters of cables for superconductor cable manufacturer LS Cable of Korea.



This week, American Superconductor received its largest order yet for underground direct-current superconductor cable–over 3 million meters of cables for superconductor cable manufacturer LS Cable of Korea, which will use the wire across Korea. LS Cable will also use the cables for the upcoming Tres Amigas solar and wind project in the U.S., which will act as an energy hub, connecting the Eastern, Western, and Texas power grids–effectively eliminating the argument of opponents who don’t want unsightly wires stretching across the U.S. landscape.

American Superconductor sells underground direct-current superconductor
cables as an alternative to traditional overhead transmission cables.
That’s a good thing for utility-scale renewable energy projects, which
require lots of transmission lines.

According to CNet, the cables are more efficient than the overhead variety. Direct current superconductor cables lose just three percent of the electricity they transmit, while overhead cables lose 10 percent of their juice. That allows energy to be transported over larger distances, making projects like the Green Power Express–a planned 3,000 mile wind energy superhighway in the Midwest–possible.

The technology is still in its infancy, and its hard to say if the cables will last as long as traditional cable wires. If they do, however, unsightly overhead transmission cables may be relegated the dustbin of history.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more