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Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) is an energy storage technology that stores energy in the form of DC electricity that is the source of a DC magnetic field. The conductor for carrying the current operates at cryogenic temperatures where it is a superconductor and thus has virtually no resistive losses as it produces the magnetic field. The overall technology of cryogenics and superconductivity today is such that the components of a SMES device are defined and can be constructed. The integrated unit appears to be feasible for some utility applications at a cost that is competitive with other technologies. SMES is the only technology based on superconductivity that is applicable to the electric utilities and is commercially available today. In addition to today's power quality application, the historical development of SMES starting with the concept of very large plants that would store hundreds of megawatt hours of energy and were intended for diurnal load leveling are described.
Date of Publication: May 2000