Electrical grids in North America are aging and are fast becoming very unreliable. The utilities are now looking at new technologies to upgrade the system at a fraction of the cost of replacing them. Fortunately transmission technologies such as composite conductors, high voltage DC (HVDC) and flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS) seem capable of improving the situation for the near to medium future. HTS appears to be the best bet for the medium to long term future because of its very high efficiency and capacity.
The use of these technologies with greater technological advances and lower costs through R&D will drive the North American advanced high voltage transmission technology market. These technologies along with improved distribution and communication & control systems, expect to be part of the smart grid of the future.
Frost & Sullivan finds that the North American Composite Conductors Market earned revenues of $25.0 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $225.0 million in 2012. The North American HVDC Market revenues were $220.0 million in 2005 and the North American FACTS Market revenues reached $94.0 million in 2005. Frost & Sullivan estimates this to reach $155.0 million by 2012.
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Since electric transmission lines are the backbone of the power network in North America, rapid technological development is the key to sustaining this market. The four major technologies that could influence the structure of the electrical grid in the future are composite conductors, FACTS, high voltage DC (HVDC), and high temperature superconductors (HTS).
“These high voltage transmission technologies are essential for improving the grid in the future and can hope to gain major investments from the utilities, especially promising technologies like HTS,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst J Subramanian.
Apprehensions regarding costs and reliability of new technologies hamper their adoption. R&D aimed at making them more capable of accommodating the new lines, can help to allay these misgivings. Hence, companies that focus on improving automation and providing remote monitoring and diagnostics to reduce maintenance costs will benefit.
“The utilities need to invest in these technologies to improve the grid’s capacity as well as increase its resilience to disturbances,” notes Subramanian.
“This need would see investments in rewiring large portions of transmission and distribution infrastructure using composite conductors, installation of FACTS and HVDC to improve capacities and efficiencies, as well as deployment of HTS cables in congested areas, improves efficiency while utilizing a fraction of the footprint of a conventional system.”
Composite conductors, for instance, can improve the grid more than conventional conductors and require less capital expenditure. They can achieve the same capacity addition at less than 25 percent of the total replacement plan due to superior high temperature performance and lighter weight.
Over the next few years, increasing replacement activity and number of market participants will intensify competition, leading to increased offshore production activities. This will make way for international quality value-added services and thus, companies that offer better products and services will gain market share.
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North American Advanced High Voltage Transmission Technology Market