As the Northeastern Power Blackout of August 14, 2003, made clear,
the electric transmission system in the United States is under ever-increasing
stress, threatening both reliability and commerce. While electric
industry restructuring has opened wholesale electricity markets
to competitive investment in generation, investment in transmission
facilities has failed to keep up.
Researcher holding 3M
ACCR conductor sample
Every region in the country is experiencing a decline in transmission
capacity relative to the growth in load. Difficulties in obtaining
right-of-way, regulatory uncertainty, and the fact that AC electric
power transmission is inherently a communal asset, shared by all
generators and loads, contribute to the problem.
Fortunately advances in technology can offer considerable help,
if they can be developed and commercialized.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is developing advanced
technologies to address national transmission challenges through
research sponsored by DOE's
Transmission Reliability Program, which is part of the Office
of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), and other
partners. Specific areas of research and development include:
of the Powerline Conductor Accelerator Testing (PCAT) Facility
at the National Transmission Technology Research Center (NTTRC)
near the ORNL site. Construction of this facility is in response
to recommendations from the National Transmission Grid Study that
directed DOE to "develop national transmission-technology
testing facilities that encourage partnering with industry to
demonstrate advanced technologies in controlled environment. Working
with TVA, DOE will create an industry cost-shared transmission
line testing center at DOE 's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (with
at least a 50 percent industry cost share)."
Reporter article on PCAT
Development and performance testing of the other
new high-performance conductors. Future planned activities include:
- Testing indoor conductors in a unique facility
with a 56-foot ceiling and 1400-foot length
- Testing conductors at full-system voltage and
- Applying and testing power electronic systems
for transmission system control
- Developing and testing sensors for transmission
Much of the research on power transmission is conducted in collaboration
with TVA, 3M Company, and others.
For more information on power transmission and distribution, contact
John Stovall, or (865) 574-5198.
ORNL | EES
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory, one of the Department of Energy's multiprogram national research and development facilities,
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005 1:27 PM