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Ambitious European power project to use AMSC high-temp superconductor wire

AMSC, a Devens technology company that makes components for wind energy and power grid companies, said Tuesday that it is supplying high temperature superconductor wire for an ambitious project in Germany that seeks better ways to distribute electricity in major cities.

The project in Essen, Germany, is called AmpaCity, and it involves Nexans, a French cable company; RWE Group, Germany’s top power provider; and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, a German research institute.

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The collaborators say they are looking to install what will be the longest superconductor cable installation in the world.

At the moment, electricity is distributed through cities by networks of transformer stations that, among other things, take up lots of urban space.

Daniel McGahn, president and chief executive of AMSC.

Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Replacing the old technology with AmpaCity would “lead to greater efficiency as well as lower operating and maintenance costs while simultaneously reducing land use,” Nexans said in a press release. The dismantling of the many transformer stations now needed to distribute power would help free up valuable space in inner-city areas, Nexans added.

AMSC said that plans for AmpaCity call for using its high temperature superconductor, or HTS, wire to be used in what is called a superconductor fault current limiter, or SFCL. Simply put, an SFCL is a surge protector that will ensure smooth operations when AmpaCity is connected to the power grid.

“As electricity demand and generation are steadily growing and power grids are becoming more interconnected, the magnitude of fault currents on power grids is increasing significantly,” AMSC said in a press release. “By lowering the fault current levels, SFCLs enable utilities to defer or eliminate equipment replacement, increase equipment life, and enhance system operation.”

In a statement, AMSC president and chief executive Daniel P. McGahn added, “AMSC is proud to act as a supplier to Nexans on the landmark AmpaCity project.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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