Economic feasibility study of using high-temperature superconducting cables in U.K.'s electrical distribution networks

Yuan, Weijia and Venuturumilli, Sriharsha and Zhang, Zhenyu and Mavrocostanti, Yiango and Zhang, Min (2018) Economic feasibility study of using high-temperature superconducting cables in U.K.'s electrical distribution networks. IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, 28 (4). 2799332. ISSN 1051-8223 (

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This paper details the key outputs of the U.K.'s first feasibility study of implementing the high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cables in electricity distribution networks to solve capacity issues. This project is mainly aimed at studying the technical and economic aspects of using superconducting cables and comparing them with the existing approaches, to determine whether a demonstration project of the superconducting solution is feasible. The University of Bath in collaboration with Western Power Distribution (WPD) has conducted this study, considering a previous capacity issue in WPD's network using both conventional and superconducting solutions. The first part of the study investigated the different aspects (installation procedures, power capacity, capital, and operational costs, etc.) of superconducting cables, comparing them with conventional cables. This identified the unique benefit of the high power density of HTS cables, which could allow the usage of a low-voltage superconducting cable in place of a high-voltage conventional cable. In the second part of the study, a 132-kV site in WPD's network that required reinforcement has been chosen for performing the feasibility study. As part of this study, a detailed cost benefit analysis (CBA) was conducted, comparing the superconducting solution with the conventional solution. The outputs from the present value analysis that has been carried out as part of the CBA are discussed. The results of the CBA power system studies performed are presented, evaluating the impact that each solution has on the network power flows, losses, and fault levels. Finally, based on the outputs from the CBA and future projections in the costs of superconducting cables, recommendations were made for the usage of superconducting cables in U.K. electricity distribution networks to solve network capacity issues.