August 19, 2003 – A report published just hours before North America’s worst-ever power blackout describes how new superconductor research could hold the key to streamlining the nation’s creaky power grid.
In a Reuters story on August 14, Dean Peterson, lead scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Superconductivity Technology Center, calls for more research into superconductors containing ceramic-coated filaments that can channel more electricity through underground lines. Also involved in the technology is a US Department of Energy program, dubbed “Grid 2030,” which is investigating how superconducting cables could relieve the congestion in urban electric systems.
Ironically, early-stage projects are in the works in urban areas of New York and Ohio — two of the locations hit hardest by the huge Northeast blackout nearly two weeks ago. American Semiconductor is the lead contractor laying a 2,000-foot underground circuit in East Garden City, NY for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the nation’s third-largest municipal utility. The trial installation, expected to be operational by late 2005, could power 300,000 homes, roughly one-third of LIPA’s total customers.