Boosting power line capacity

An overhead power conductor that doubles the electrical transmission capacity of conventional conductors of the same diameter will be commercially deployed for the first time next year in the US.

The Aluminum Composite Conductor Reinforced (ACCR), developed by 3M, will be installed on a 10-mile (16 kilometre) transmission line in the Twin Cities region of the US by Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy.

Xcel Energy is using the conductor to increase the capacity of a transmission line that extends from Shakopee to Burnsville. The upgrade is part of a $100 million expansion project at the utility’s Blue Lake “peaking” plant in Shakopee, which is needed to ensure a reliable supply of power to Xcel Energy’s customers in the Upper Midwest during periods of peak electricity demand.

3M’s ACCR is intended as a solution to thermally constrained transmission bottlenecks that have increasingly plagued electricity grids in recent years, causing brownouts and blackouts.

ACCR itself is a new type of bare overhead conductor containing a multistrand core of heat resistant aluminium matrix composite wires. It retains its strength at high temperatures and is not adversely affected by environmental conditions, such as moisture or UV exposure. Because of its light weight and reduced thermal expansion properties, the conductor can be installed on existing towers and requires no visual changes to a line or additional rights of way.

3M teamed with various companies to make 3M’s ACCR viable. Key contributors include Wire Rope Industries, Nexans, Preformed Line Products and Alcoa Conductor Accessories.

More information about the 3M Composite Conductor is available <link>here=http://www.3M.com/accr</link>.

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