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This project ended in Apr 2017 and is now closed.

Superconducting Cables

Network Feasibility Study

DurationMay 2016 - Apr 2017
  • South West
  • South Wales
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands
  • April 2017

    All of the analysis required for Work Package 3 has now been completed and work is focusing on the production of the WP3 report. This will be the last output…

Project background

The increasing number of electricity distribution networks reaching their capacity limits means that the need for network reinforcement will continue to grow. Reinforcing our networks using conventional approaches involves among others, building new electricity substations and installing additional transformers at the sites where capacity needs to be enhanced. This can be incredibly challenging in urban environments due to limited land availability and high costs, creating the need to investigate alternative solutions. 

The problem can be solved by installing new transformers or substations where it is easy to do so and then transferring their capacity to the networks that need it. Due to their high efficiency, small volume and high capacity, superconducting cables are an attractive solution for connecting new equipment to the physically remote networks that require the additional capacity. 

In this project, a feasibility study was performed to determine whether such an implementation should be considered.

Scope and objectives

The project has assessed the benefits and technical issues of using superconducting cables to provide additional capacity in dense urban environments. In such locations land prices or availability can be problematic in establishing new substations. 

This project was a feasibility study with the aim to improve knowledge of the technology’s benefits, challenges and costs to determine whether a demonstration project is appropriate.

Success criteria

The main success criteria of the project included presenting a comprehensive review of superconducting cable technology and a case study of how the technology could bring benefits to WPD’s networks. Additionally, through the review of the technology, establishing a relationship with manufacturers of superconducting cables was a very important success criterion of the project. Finally, by analysing the capital and operating costs of the technology, the project was considered a success by providing a clear recommendation for a trial project.