High costs prevent superconductor in Enschede


A transmission system operator (TSO) is responsible for a secure and sufficient supply of electricity within its control area. But besides issues of system security and reliability, TSOs have to operate cost-efficiently to provide customers with an appropriate electricity rate. Such economic requirements apply to the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT as well as to any other TSO, and also in consideration of the given official regulations, TenneT is expected to be economical in its publicly-funded investments in the high-voltage grid.

In the city of Enschede in the eastern Dutch province of Overijssel, TenneT investigated wether the installation of a 3.4km-long section of superconducting cable is feasible and reasonable. As it turned out, a superconductor would cost about four times more than a conventional cable under the specific conditions in Enschede. This excessive difference in investment costs led TenneT to refrain from the ambitious cable project.

A High-Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) cable can transmit up to five times more electricity than a conventional cable. Apart from that, it emits neither an electromagnetic field nor heat, resulting in significantly lower spatial requirements. Although this actually makes a superconductor highly suitable for inner-city applications, it would currently be too expensive to install a superconducting cable of only a few kilometres in length. But as HTS-technology is developing rapidly, a superconductor could become more affordable in the future. Given these conditions, TenneT will reconsider the deployment of HTS even for short intra-urban cable sections.

> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: “Kleurrijk Enschede” by Fred Veenkamp (Creative Commons BY-SA 2.