By constructing a ‘superstation’ near Clovis, New Mexico, Tres Amigas LLC will be able to allow energy to be shared among the disconnected American energy grid, joining the Eastern Interconnection, Western Interconnection, and Texas Interconnection together. The project is being pursued with the main goal of creating the first ever market hub in which potential U.S. renewable energy can be developed and delivered to load centers.
This particular location is ideal because its geographical location, found at a point in which all three interconnections are closest to one another. Additionally, New Mexico and other nearby states have high potential for both wind and solar power, but have lower energy demands than other parts of the country. As the demand for renewable energy increases, this facility will allow a great portion of the nation’s solar and wind energy — which is generated in sparsely populated southwestern states — to distribute stored energy where and when it is needed most. The Tres Amigas project will allow this energy to be distributed in manners and on a scale that have not been previously possible.
The most innovative part of the superstation is the technology that will make it possible. With three converter stations, the facilities can hold and transport 5 gigawatts of power, with the potential to eventually increase that load to 30 gigawatts. Instead of using the traditional overhead transmission lines, which are less reliable and secure, Tres Amigas have developed an underground superconducter pipeline, which they claim has a zero voltage loss. This technology has never been used outside of a laboratory, so the project will serve as a major proving ground. Based on the amount of interest it has generated in the energy industry though, it seems that in the near future, the American energy grid will be much better oriented for renewable energy and for transferring energy to areas where it is needed most.