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NKT to Develop Prototype for World’s Longest Superconducting Power Cable

Stadtwerke München Infrastrukur has now started the first stage of the development of project “SuperLink” which will be the longest superconducting cable line when finalized. NKT is one of the key partners in the development phase of the innovative project.

October 28, 2020

Superconducting Power Cable

With a green light to kick off the SuperLink project, NKT and six other partners now start the prototype development of the superconducting power cable technology which will be specially designed to the city of Munich, Germany. SuperLink is a project for the future and when the technology has been developed and the project tendered, it is expected to become a 12-kilometer underground power link which will be the longest superconducting power cable solution in the world. For NKT, the ambitious project is an important indication about the future potential of superconducting power cables.

We are proud to take part in the early stages of the development of SuperLink where Stadtwerke München and Stadtwerke München Infrastruktur are taking a significant step to leverage superconducting power cables. It is important to continue to develop solutions to support the transition to renewable energy and the ambitions of the German Energiewende. In NKT, we see superconducting power cables as a part of the future to ensure optimized access to clean energy in larger cities such as Munich, says Anders Jensen, Chief Technology Officer in NKT.

In close collaboration with the other project partners Linde plc, THEVA, the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences (FH-SWF), Stadtwerke München Infrastruktur, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Stadtwerke München, NKT now starts the development of the technology based on high-temperature superconductors for Stadtwerke München Infrastruktur, a subsidiary to the utility Stadtwerke München.

Superconductors to meet global challenges

With 1.5 million residents, Munich is a great city to develop and live-test the possibilities of superconducting power cables to expand the power grids in urban areas. Large cities around the world are facing the same challenges with growing populations driving an increasing demand for green electricity which is challenging the capacity of the existing power grids.

The SuperLink is a project-based solution adapted to the needs of Stadtwerke München, and we hope to prove the commercial viability of the technology in a situation of increasing grid congestion driven by urbanization, increased electrification and more renewable energy entering the energy mix. Superconducting power cables will make it possible to expand the power grid in critical areas without having to dig up half the city, says Anders Jensen, Chief Technology Officer in NKT.

The superconducting power cables is extremely compact compared to conventional cable technology and can become a key enabler of the transition to renewable energy in urban areas due to the high power-to-size ratio. The SuperLink is expected to have a power rating of 500 MW and will be installed between two substations in Munich using existing ducts to keep the construction work at a minimum.

Superconducting power cables enable power-dense transmission carrying a large amount of electric power in a very compact cable design. Also, SuperLink is expected to become a 12 km link with a power rating of 500 MW and a voltage level of 110 kV. It  is planned to be installed in existing ducts to minimize the construction work. SuperLink will deliver a large amount of power through a narrow corridor in the heart of Munich. The superconducting cable is cooled to minus 200ºC in a closed circuit with the environmental harmless refrigerant nitrogen. Moreover, a cooling system with redundant back-up coolers will be an integral part of the system.

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