As a transmission system operator, TenneT is required to ensure its investments in the high-voltage grid are efficient, as defined by the set rules and regulations. A major investment such as the superconductor is regarded as a non-regular expansion investment. Because TenneT’s investments are publicly funded and the additional costs of an innovative project of this kind cannot be recovered via the grid fees[i], there are limits to how much TenneT can invest.
We understand that this is disappointing news for Enschede’s local authority, as it was very excited when TenneT announced the city was being considered as a potential pilot site in 2016.
We will be following up with the local authority to discuss subsequent steps. In order to strengthen the security of supply in the region, a regular cabled 110kV connection will be installed in the near future
At this point, installing a superconducting cable of only a few kilometres in length would be too costly. However, the associated technology is developing rapidly. This type of cable is expected to become more affordable in the future. When that time comes, TenneT will definitely reconsider the option of using superconductivity in the context of a different project.
The superconductor is a so-called High-Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) cable, which is capable of transmitting up to five times more electricity than conventional cables with copper or aluminium conductors. Furthermore, the superconductor emits neither an electromagnetic field nor heat, which means it requires significantly less space than a conventional cable. This makes the superconductor highly suitable for inner-city applications. TenneT had plans to install a 3.4km-long underground superconducting high-voltage system in Enschede. However, it has now become clear that the cost of such a project would be prohibitive.