ABB first to connect superconducting transformer to a utility power network

Future market for new high-efficiency transformers

Zurich, Switzerland, March 12, 1997 - ABB, the international engineering company, today announced it has successfully connected the world's first operational high-temperature superconducting distribution transformer to the power supply network of the City of Geneva, Switzerland. The three-phase transformer has an output of 630 kilovolt-amperes (kVA) and is designed to convert power from 18.7 kilovolts (kV) to 420 volts. The equipment will now begin long-term performance monitoring under actual power grid conditions. In November last year, ABB also installed the world's first commercially operational high-temperature superconducting fault current limiter for electric utility service in a Swiss hydro power plant. This latest event marks a significant milestone towards the use of high-temperature superconducting transfomers.

"As high-temperature superconducting (HTS) technology continues to improve, we expect it to become cost-competitive with conventional power transformer technology," said Craig Tedmon, ABB's Executive Vice President responsible for research and technology. "This development project will allow us to better quantify the efficiency and environmental benefits and prove the suitability of high-temperature superconducting technology for application to power transformers."

The HTS transformer takes advantage of a superconductor's unique ability to transmit electricity with no resistance when cooled below a certain temperature. By using HTS windings instead of copper, the transformer can be designed lighter, more compact, with much reduced energy losses. For both the coolant and the insulating fluid, the transformer uses liquid nitrogen - a non-flammable, non-hazardous substance.

In developing the HTS transformer, ABB collaborated closely with Electricité de France (EDF), the world's largest utility, and with Services Industriels de Genève (SIG), the electric utility of Geneva. The project was supported by the Swiss Federal Office for Energy Management (BEW), the Swiss Utilities Study Fund (PSEL), and the Commission of Electricit é Romande (RDP-CREE).

The HTS transformer was jointly developed by ABB's Corporate Research Laboratories and ABB Sécheron, Geneva, a member of ABB's global Power Transmission and Distribution Segment which employs over 51,000 employees worldwide and with orders in 1996 of approximately US$ 10 billion. ABB employs approximately 1,000 scientists and technicians in eight corporate research centers in Europe and America. A further 17,000 engineers spread across ABB's global business areas are also engaged in research and development. In 1996 ABB spent US$ 2.6 billion on R&D, approximately 8 percent of its total revenues. The ABB Group employs approximately 215,000 people with orders in 1996 of over US$ 36 billion.
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    • Mr. John Fox
      ABB Corporate Communications, Zurich
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