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South Korea state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) is demonstrating a superconductor cable on a local island as part of a push to export its smart grid technologies.

KEPCO together with South Korea cable manufacturer LS Cable System and US advanced grid systems company AMSC have set up a demonstration site on Korea's Jeju island showcasing a high-voltage direct current (HVDC), high-temperature superconductor (HTS) cable.

The 500 meter, 80kV DC cable is powered by AMSC's Amperium HTS wire and installed in KEPCO's electricity grid.

HVDC HTS cables are capable of conducting 150 times more electricity than copper or aluminium devices of the same size, the companies involved in the project said in a statement.

The Amperium wire, which is manufactured at AMSC's headquarters in Devens, Massachusetts, was used to increase efficiency and reduce the size and weight of the power cable.

Advances in cabling technology

LS Cable System hinted that is was working on designs for future cables capable of moving up to 10 gigawatts of power within an 8 meter right-of-way.

A similar overhead circuit would require multiple extremely high voltage circuits and an approximately 120 meter right-of-way.

Ja-Eun Koo, president and CEO, at LS Cable & System, said: "The HVDC superconducting cable system offers transmission performance superior to that of the alternating current (AC) system.

"Interest in this technology has been building up in Asia, the United States and Europe, where new power network implementation is needed."

He added: "We remain focused on continuing to enhance our knowledge base and experience with superconductor cables so that we are well positioned to capitalize on opportunities around the world."

Smart grid demonstrations

In 2011, KEPCO, LS Cable & System, and AMSC energized a 22.9 kV AC cable system at the I'cheon substation located near the city of Seoul. The cable operated for two years.

At the time of installation, it was the longest distribution voltage superconductor power cable in operation.

KEPCO is also conducting type testing for a one kilometer, 154kV AC cable system that utilizes AMSC's Amperium HTS wire.

Global export

The announcement about the smart grid demonstration follows local media reports last week that KEPCO was planning to export its smart grid technologies worldwide.

Commenting on the HTS cable project, Hwan-Eik Cho, president and CEO, at KEPCO, said: "We believe Korea is the earliest country in the world to adopt smart and clean energy such as smart grid, energy storage system (ESS), and micro grid.

"The energizing of the first direct current high temperature superconductor cable in a real grid demonstrates KEPCO's commitment to developing world-class, leading edge technologies.

He added: "We expect to continue to develop superconductor cable projects with the objective of being the foremost utility in superconductor-enabled solutions."