Backbone of a Modern Electric Power Grid
image credit: ACCC Conductor Installation
- Mar 26, 2020 11:21 am GMT
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In 2002, a small group of people set out to develop technologies that could improve the efficiency, capacity and reliability of the electric power grid. Rather than focus on improved meters, more efficient transformers or other “smart” technologies, they went straight to the backbone – the wires themselves.
The team developed the ACCC® Conductor. This new type of bare overhead wire used a hybrid carbon and glass fiber composite core to replace the steel core wires used in conventional ACSR and ACSS conductors. The new core offered lighter weight, greater strength and a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). Reduced CTE served to reduced conductor sag – enabling increased line capacity and improved clearances; Greater strength allowed increased spans between fewer and/or shorter structures to reduce upfront capital costs on new lines; and the lighter weight core allowed the use of 28% more aluminum (without an overall weight or diameter penalty) that served to improve grid efficiency.
Flash in the Pan?
Not quite. While very few utilities gave the ACCC Conductor’s efficiency benefit much credence, as line losses were generally passed through to consumers, utilities did appreciate the high-capacity, low-sag HTLS attributes. The ACCC Conductor, in fact, has become the most widely selected HTLS conductor on the market today. In the last 15 years, the ACCC Conductor has been deployed to more than 800 projects in over 50 countries and that doesn’t include another 50 or so that are currently underway!
In recent years the efficiency tide has shifted. Internationally, ACCC Conductor installations are being funded by Exim Bank, World Bank, Asian Development and others not only to increase line capacity to support economic development, but also specifically because the ACCC Conductor reduces line losses which reduces fuel consumption and associated GHG emissions, while also freeing up generation capacity that was otherwise wasted. The ACCC Conductor was actually certified by SCS Global Services for its energy efficiency attributes.
Here in the U.S., you may have seen the recent FERC Proposal that aims to shift away from the ‘risk and challenges’ approach to a ‘consumer benefits’ approach used to evaluate transmission projects and ROE incentives. The benefits of improved efficiency are being recognized and rewarded. There is also a strong Green Bond Financing movement that is targeting ‘green and clean’ projects in the U.S., offering further proof that efficiency matters.
No. There is science behind the science fiction. Introducing a new technology to a very risk adverse culture is no easy task. With that said, the ACCC Conductor was the most trialed and tested conductor of all time. Dozens of labs in the U.S. and abroad performed hundreds of tests on the ACCC Conductor and even helped develop ASTM Standard B987 for composite core conductors. All of this work paved the way for the ACCC Conductor’s awesome success.
Flash Forward –
A lot can be learned in the lab, but even more can be learned in the field. With more than 800 ACCC Installations completed in every conceivable environment – from the mountains of China to the deserts of Qatar, some lessons have been learned the hard way. Rather than brush these under the rug, CTC Global – the developer of the ACCC Conductor has used what they’ve learned to help others avoid making the same mistakes. After all, construction projects are not completely without challenges.
In response to Utility customers asking for a “fast, accurate and simple-to-use method to confirm post-installation integrity of their ACCC Conductor installations,” CTC Global recently introduced the ACCC InfoCore™ System. The ACCC InfoCore™ System uses optical fibers embedded into the ACCC® Conductor’s Core along with an emitter, detector and controller to ensure the structural integrity of the conductor. While the ACCC InfoCore System offers improved safety, reliability and confidence in the short-term, its most certainly serves as a platform for further advances in conductor technology. Stay tuned.