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KEPCO Commercializes Superconducting Power Transmission Technology for First Time in the World
A Global Leader in Superconducting Technology
KEPCO Commercializes Superconducting Power Transmission Technology for First Time in the World
  • By Jung Min-hee
  • November 6, 2019, 10:07
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KEPCO president Kim Jong-kap (fourth from left) and LS Cable & System president Myung Roe-hyun (third from left) cut the ribbon in a ceremony marking the world’s first commercialization of superconducting power transmission technology at an electricity substation in Yongin, Geyonggi Province on Nov. 5.

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) has successfully commercialized superconducting power transmission technology for the first time in the world.

Korea was not the first country to develop superconducting power transmission technology. The United States, Japan and European countries developed the energy-efficient technology ahead of Korea. Yet Korea beat out all the front runners to become the first country in the world to commercialize the dream technology.

The state-run utility firm held a ribbon cutting ceremony at its Heungdeok electricity substation in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province on Nov. 5 to celebrate the world’s first commercialization of superconducting power transmission technology.

Superconducting cables are called “dream cables” as they reduce the loss of power in transmission to one tenth of conventional cables. In addition, superconducting cables can carry five times more power than conventional ones. Since they can transmit more power at lower voltage, they are especially suitable for big cities where installing new transmission lines are not an easy option and overloaded lines need replacing.

KEPCO has built a 23 kV 50 MVA power transfer system for a 1 km section between Shingal and Heungdeok substations using superconducting cables manufactured by LS Cable & System.

Korea is the first country in the world to operate a commercial superconducting power transmission system that extends for 1 km. KEPCO began to test the system in July this year and has initiated commercial services on Nov. 5. LS Cable & System was in charge of its installation.

Korea was listed as the world’s first country that commercialized superconducting cable-based transmission technology in a white paper issued last month by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Korean government launched an R&D project for development and application of next-generation superconducting technology in 2001 in cooperation with private companies. At the time, the United States, Europe and Japan were ahead of Korea in developing superconducting cables. In less than 20 years since launching the R&D project, however, Korea have made remarkable progress in planning, testing, producing, installing and managing superconducting power transmission systems. Korea has continuously ranked first since 2016 in superconducting technologies, which are evaluated in terms of voltage, capacity and distance. Korea is followed by the United States, which tested a 610 meter-long 138 kV cable at 574 MVA, and by Japan, which tested a 250 meter-long 66 kV cable at 200 MVA.

KEPCO will promote commercialization of a 154 kV high-voltage superconducting power transmission system and establish a superconducting platform using 23 kV three-phase superconducting cables.

Meanwhile, LS Cable & System, which is responsible for manufacturing and installing cables in this project, successfully developed a superconducting cable in 2004. The cable manufacturer also completed testing 80 kV superconducting direct current (DC) cables in 2015, becoming the only company in the world having both DC and alternating current (AC) cable technologies. LS C&S also demonstrated the world’s longest and most capacious superconducting cables at the Jeju Superconducting Grid Center in November, 2016.