Tres Amigas is planning to build a grid ‘superstation’ in Clovis, New Mexico, to connect three major US energy grids, the East, West and Texas interconnections.
The new project will enable transmission of renewable power between the different networks and effectively connect areas with abundant wind and solar energy resources to population centres across the US.
The project, situated on a 22-square-mile site close to the Texas border, will include a huge network of underground superconductor pipelines and AC/DC converters that can transmit energy and balance power loads between the three grids.
The proposed substation, operating like a traffic roundabout, would use American Superconductor’s superconducting cable to transmit 5,000MW of electricity, equal to the output of five nuclear-power reactors.
The substation will also utilise a new technology to make sure that power flows slowly along the three grids. The technology involves transforming the alternating current of each area into a common direct current. This will transform specific electrons into an alternating current to suit the grid for which the electrons were destined.
Tres Amigas is currently seeking authorisation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and construction could commence by 2011.
The hub could then become operational by 2013 or 2014, initially allowing 5GW of energy to be conveyed before being upgraded to 30GW capacity.