13 November 2003 – American Superconductor Corporation announced Wednesday that it has delivered to the Tennessee Valley Authority the first SuperVAR dynamic synchronous condenser, a new product that stabilizes grid voltages, increases service reliability and can help maximize transmission capacity.
As the demand for power increases and more electricity is transmitted over the grid, power lines become stressed, which can result in voltage instability and ultimately, power outages.
The key to preventing major outages, protecting service quality and maximizing transmission capacity is ensuring that grid voltage is properly regulated. Utilities keep voltage levels stable and ensure a reliable flow of electricity by maintaining a balance of real power (watts) and reactive power (VARs) on their transmission grids.
A recent letter issued by the North American Electricity Reliability Council (NERC) based on an analysis of the August 2003 blackout cited the need to ensure appropriate levels of reactive power as the highest priority for transmission owners and operators.
“In the new reality that has emerged following the major blackouts that occurred in the U.S., Italy, and Denmark this summer and fall, the need for utilities to ensure a balance of reactive power on their grids has emerged as an urgent priority,” said Greg Yurek, president and CEO of American Superconductor.
“Utilities are looking to the most effective dynamic reactive power grid stabilization technologies, which include industry-leading power electronics-based solutions such as our D-VAR(R) systems and new, high temperature superconductor-based solutions such as our SuperVAR dynamic synchronous condensers, to help them instantly protect their grids and their customers against sub-second voltage fluctuations.”
SuperVAR synchronous condensers serve as reactive power “shock absorbers” for the grid, dynamically generating or absorbing reactive power (VARs), depending on the voltage level of the transmission system.
SuperVAR machines also respond instantly to protect grids and electricity customers against voltage sags and surges (known in the power industry as “voltage transients”), which can be caused by lightning storms, short circuits caused by tree branches momentarily touching lines, animals contacting transmission elements, and other sources.
SuperVAR machines and D-VAR systems instantly stabilize voltage and provide utilities new, cost-effective means to actively increase the reliability and maximize the capacity of transmission grids.
“In today’s digital economy, keeping voltage levels constant and stable is vital,” said Terry Boston, Executive Vice President of Transmission Power Supply Group, TVA. “That’s what TVA’s customers expect, and we believe that’s what this new technology will help us deliver.”
The first SuperVAR synchronous condenser is being installed and dedicated today at TVA’s electrical substation serving a steel mill operated by the Hoeganaes Corporation in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Early next year, in coordination with the Gallatin Department of Electricity and the operating schedule of the Hoeganaes Corporation steel mill, the first SuperVAR machine is expected to be connected to the area’s grid.
The SuperVAR machine will help stabilize voltage on TVA’s grid by injecting reactive power to compensate for the sudden and large amounts of reactive power drawn by the steel mill during operation of its arc furnace.
TVA has committed to purchase five additional SuperVAR synchronous condensers, conditional on the successful evaluation and testing of the initial SuperVAR machine.
Developed by AMSC in collaboration with TVA, SuperVAR(TM) synchronous condensers are reactive power grid stabilization products built on the same high temperature superconductor (HTS) rotating machine platform as the advanced HTS ship propulsion motors AMSC is building for the U.S. Navy.
AMSC is a world-leading supplier of dynamic reactive power grid stabilization products, which include the company’s D-VAR(R) (dynamic-VAR) systems and new SuperVAR(TM) synchronous condensers.
These products, which can be installed in electrical substations or other strategic points on power grids (such as wind farm interconnection points), respond instantly to voltage fluctuations and stabilize the grid by injecting or absorbing reactive power (VARs). For more information about AMSC’s transmission grid stabilization solutions, please visit http://www.amsuper.com/html/products/transmissionGrid/index.html.
TVA is the nation’s largest public power provider and is completely self- financed. TVA provides power to large industries and 158 power distributors that serve 8.3 million consumers in seven southeastern states.
AMSC is a supplier of dynamic reactive power grid stabilization products and the world’s principal vendor of high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire and large rotating superconductor machinery. More information is available at www.amsuper.com.