Project Hydra to Protect New York City's Power Grid

Project Hydra, a new, high-temperature superconductor (HTS) power grid technology, will be deployed in Con Edison's power delivery network in New York City by American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC), a leading energy technologies company.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to invest up to $25 million in the development of this technology to enable secure “super grids” in the United States. Secure super grids utilize customized HTS wires, HTS power cables and ancillary controls to deliver more power through the grid while also being able to suppress power surges that can disrupt service.

The project has been code named “Project Hydra” by DHS. Much like the mythical Greek monster that grew back multiple heads when one was severed, multiple paths for electricity flow will be created in power grids to ensure system reliability if circuits were to be disrupted. To view an animation of secure super grids in action, visit

“The Department of Homeland Security is charged with protecting the infrastructure and systems that keep our nation and our economy running smoothly,” said Jay Cohen, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The U.S. power grid is one of our most valuable assets, and we are taking the steps necessary - through the use of our most advanced technologies - to ensure its safety.

“As we saw with the August 2003 blackout and in incidents since, disruptions to the power grid have far-reaching effects and a tremendous economic impact,” he added. “We have asked AMSC and Consolidated Edison to demonstrate superconductor solutions in New York City that will serve to keep our centers of commerce on line under all conditions – including grid events related to severe weather, accidents or terrorist attacks.”

The deployment of a commercial high-capacity, surge-suppressing HTS cable system in New York City is projected for completion in three years, concurrent with Con Edison's “System of the Future” grid enhancement plans. The project will occur in two phases. The project's first phase, which is now underway, focuses on the development and operation of a prototype system. Testing of the first secure super grid system is targeted for completion by the end of 2008.

AMSC is the prime contractor for Project Hydra. The company signed a letter contract worth $1.7 million with DHS on May 18, 2007, and work on the project has commenced. The total project cost is estimated to be $39.3 million. I

“Project Hydra represents a powerful convergence of the visions of our three organizations: Con Edison's vision for the adoption of superconductor technology to help create its System of the Future for New York City; DHS's vision to tap into advanced energy technologies to enhance grid security; and AMSC's vision to commercialize superconductor technology for the power grid,” said Greg Yurek, founder and CEO of AMSC. “Not only will this project kick off the deployment of superconductor technology to the benefit of the people and businesses of New York City, it will also demonstrate a new power grid solution that will have broad appeal around the globe.”

The second phase of the project will focus on the deployment of the first secure super grid system in Con Edison's power grid in New York City at an undisclosed location. AMSC will produce the HTS wire, known as 344 superconductors, for the project and will contract with Southwire Co. to perform the detailed cable and termination design as well as the manufacture of the superconductor cable. Commissioning of the 13 kilovolt (kV) HTS cable system is expected in early 2010, meeting Con Edison's construction schedule.

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