November 25, 2009
By Paul Louis
A newly formed energy group called the Tres Amigas Project has put forth a proposal to interconnect three regional areas of natural energy sources, covering wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal generated electrical energies. The project may cost 1 billion dollars and take five years to complete.
The three regional grids to be connected are the Eastern interconnection, the Western interconnection, and the Texas interconnection. The connecting high speed substation would be placed in a 22.5 square mile area near Clovis, NM. Three high voltage converters capable of converting 5000 megawatts of direct current would be installed, forming a triangle over the Clovis 22.5 square mile area.
Those three converters would be linked with direct current superconductor cables from American Superconductor. The superconductor cables are meant to be underground, which minimizes environmental and property ownership issues. The cables are also very efficient at transmitting electricity.
Their power loss during transmission is around 3 percent, while conventional overhead cables often lose more than 10 percent of transmitted power. American Superconductor creates superconductivity with a ceramic wire that is cooled with liquid nitrogen circulated around the wires.
The proposal was announced last October, 2009 by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Governor Richardson had previously served as the U.S. Energy Secretary. The newly forming Tres Amigas Project has its headquarters in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s state capitol.