American Superconductor Receives New HTS Wire Order from Korean Technology Developer

October 03, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

American Superconductor Corp. announced that it has received an order for first generation (1G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI). KERI, based in Changwon, South Korea, will utilize 22,000 meters of 1G wire to begin a 10-year project focused on developing superconductor magnetic energy storage (SMES) systems. This project is being funded by South Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology.

SMES systems provide backup electric power that is able to respond instantly to power fluctuations on transmission and distribution grids. KERI is developing SMES systems that utilize coils of HTS wire that can store and then release megawatts of power instantly to stabilize voltage in power grids. Until now, commercial SMES systems have only used low temperature superconductors (LTS) that need to operate at extremely low, cryogenic temperatures. SMES systems based on HTS wire are expected to operate at 5 to 20 times higher temperatures, which would make them more efficient, rugged and affordable for power grid applications.

"We are pleased that American Superconductor was awarded this highly competitive bid," said Angelo Santamaria, Vice President and General Manager of the AMSC Wires business unit of American Superconductor. "KERI's SMES system required a unique four-ply superconductor with particularly high electrical performance – a product that we developed jointly with KERI utilizing our 1G HTS wire.

Our ability to rapidly meet customer specifications with 1G wire as we continue to scale up manufacturing of 2G wire was once again key to winning this order. While we have now fully transitioned to the production of 2G HTS wire, known as 344 superconductors, our 1G inventory has enabled us to extend our market leadership."

AMSC received orders for nearly 150,000 meters of 1G HTS wire during the second quarter of fiscal 2007 ended September 30, 2006. The company entered the quarter with more than 400,000 meters of 1G HTS wire in stock. AMSC expects to receive orders for most, if not all, of its remaining 1G inventory by December 2007 when annual gross capacity for its 344 superconductors ramps to 720,000 meters. AMSC discontinued production of 1G HTS wire as of June 30, 2006.

"Our strategy to meet near-term demand for HTS wire with 1G inventory as we bring our production equipment for 344 superconductors on line is paying off," said Greg Yurek, CEO of AMSC. "Demand for HTS wire and applications continues to build, and American Superconductor is capitalizing fully on every opportunity. Our 344 superconductors, which we believe will have dramatically lower cost and higher performance than 1G wire, will serve as the primary catalyst for widespread adoption of HTS technology in the utility, military and industrial markets, among others."