Superconducting cables project brings promise of sustainable energy transition

The EU-funded project SCARLET has gathered a number of international partners to develop superconducting cables that will enable more efficient and less costly power transmission from renewable electricity generation sites.

The partners of the SCARLET project gather for the kick-off meeting (Courtesy of Rifs Potsdam)
The partners of the SCARLET project gather for the kick-off meeting (Courtesy of SINTEF)

The project SCARLET, short for Superconducting cables for sustainable energy transition, has secured funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program for the period of four and a half years.

Bringing together 15 partners from seven countries, the project’s kick-off meeting took place in September 2022 at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany.

Throughout this first gathering, participants planned the tasks and developments of the project in detail.

According to WavEC, one of the partners in the project, the participants looked at the whole range of effects of superconducting cables, as their properties open the door for cost savings beyond the cables themselves.

The high current-carrying capability of the cables allows for a reduction in voltage level, resulting in smaller and much less expensive equipment at offshore wind energy farms.

Another novelty that the project is expected to develop is the transport of electricity and hydrogen in the same pipeline.

WavEC has pointed out that superconductivity is a phenomenon when specific materials are cooled to very low temperatures, allowing for the transmission of electricity without any resistive losses.

These superconducting cables give rise to expectations because of their high efficiency, compact size, and reduced environmental impact.

The SCARLET project is expected to capitalize on these advantages by developing cables that transfer very high powers in very small conductors.

The partners set up a goal of bringing the technology to the last qualification step before commercialization.

Niklas Magnusson, a project coordinator from SINTEF Energy Research in Norway, said: “We are very pleased that the European Commission recognizes the potential for the use of superconducting cables in the future electricity grid.”

It is an opportunity and now our responsibility to bring this new power cable technology to commercial performance levels. In the end, we will enable the supply of renewable energy to Europe at a significantly lower cost than what is possible today.”

José Cândido, WavEC’s project manager, added: “WavEC is thrilled to participate in the SCARLET project. Despite the relevant recent developments in offshore renewable energy, there are still various challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure the transition to a reliable and sustainable energy system.

HTS superconducting medium-voltage cables are a potential game changer in the field. They may deliver secure and sustainable renewable energy across longer distances, with minimal losses and at a lower cost. We’re excited to be able to share our long-standing expertise in offshore renewables within this new electrifying project.”

Industrial partners said they plan to carry out intensive research in the years to meet their ambitious targets.

Aside from WavEC, other industrial partners in the project include Absolut System, ASG Superconductors, Nexans, RINA Consulting, SuperGrid institute, SuperNode, and Vision Electric Super Conductors, and the research institutes and universities ESPCI, IASS, RSE, SINTEF, IEE Slovak Academy of Sciences, and the University of Bologna.