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SUPERCONDUCTIVITY An Emerging Technology for Power Systems
As the world becomes more "electrified", efficient distribution and use of electrical power becomes increasingly important. The use of superconducting materials significantly reduces electrical energy loss in the distribution and use of electrical power as well as producing significant reductions in size and weight of power components and machinery. Although superconductivity was first discovered in 1911 the requirement of an extreme "cryogenic" environment (near absolute zero temperature) limited its utility. With the discovery in 1986 of a new class of "high temperature superconductors (HTS)" that operate at substantially higher temperatures (although still cryogenic), remarkable progress has been made in advancing a broader use for superconducting technology. Full scale demonstrations are now being built to develop engineering skills required for systems implementation of this new HTS technology and to better quantify system benefits. This talk will briefly review some of the fundamental attributes of superconductivity before turning to the main focus of the talk describing ongoing power demonstration projects (transmission lines, transformers, motors/generators, etc.). I will end with thoughts on what it will take to realize the full potential of these emerging superconducting technologies.