Here, I build on the topic of superconducting cable in the Grid (see my previous post, “Superpower’s 2-G Superconducting Cable Slated For Grid Installation”). While there are currently short superconducting lengths being tested in the Grid, there is a forward-looking concept, called the SuperGrid, which also deserves note. The SuperGrid capitalizes on the confluence of liquefied, cryogenic hydrogen as an energy carrier and superconducting cable, which requires very low temperature to operate.
Attributed to Chauncey Starr of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the SuperGrid is envisioned to be a liquid-hydrogen-cooled, national-scale, hybrid energy pipeline containing superconducting cables for power transmission. This arrangement would enable large amounts of electricity to be transferred across the length of the country with nearly zero line loss. In addition to providing the enabling cooling for emergence of superconducting properties in the cable, the cryogenic hydrogen would double as a chemical energy storage and transport medium, like a next-generation oil pipeline. The term “hydricity” has been proposed to describe the parallel transport of energy as electricity and hydrogen.
A comprehensive article on the SuperGrid entitled “A Power Grid for the Hydrogen Economy” was published in the July 2006 edition of Scientific American. As highlighted in this article, hydricity transportation across weather boundaries and time zones would allow power plants throughout the nation to meet the peak electricity needs of distant cities. When demand drops after dark on the East Coast, New York’s power generation capacity could be applied to mitigate mid-day brown outs in Los Angles. Inconstant and off-peak generation from renewables like solar, wind, and waves could also be stored and transported as hydrogen, enhancing the competitive potential of these green power sources.