American Superconductor, Westborough, Mass., and Wisconsin Public Service Corp., (WPS) Green Bay, Wis., recently announced that the world's first commercial superconductor-based solution for power grid reliability is now operational. The solution consists of multiple Distributed Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (D-SMES) units deployed at electrical substations in WPS' 200-mile Northern Transmission Loop. This D-SMES system will increase power reliability and capacity throughout the Northern Loop.

"The nation's power grid is highly stressed, which has led to brownouts and rolling blackouts with increasing frequency in recent years," says Greg Yurek, chief executive officer of American Superconductor. "Our new D-SMES product line provides the quickest, lowest cost and most effective solution for power reliability and capacity needs."

Distributed SMES systems are virtual generators - ready to instantaneously inject large quantities of power into the grid when needed. It's a distributed resource, and because the individual SMES units are easily moved, they can be redeployed as needed to meet the changing requirements of the grid. The installation is for large-scale power grids around the world.

"The American Superconductor D-SMES system provides us with a technically and economically superior solution for improving the voltage stability of the Northern Loop," says Larry Weyers, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Public Service. "This system will allow us to provide improved reliability to our customers immediately and create a better base for load growth and new transmission facilities in the future."