German hydro to employ high-temp superconductor generator

German utility E.ON Wasserkraft GmbH has agreed to install the world’s first high-temperature superconductor hydropower generator at its 3.9-MW Hirschaid hydro plant in Germany’s Bavaria region.

Development and installation of the 1.25-MW generator is expected to cost 3.44 million euros (US$4.37 million) of which the European Commission is providing 1.85 million euros (US$2.3 million).

The generator, which will replace an existing unit at Hirschaid, is expected to improve the economic return of renewable energy due to a significant increase in electrical efficiency of the generator.

The generator is based on high-temperature superconductor materials patented by Zenergy Power plc, which is to enable production of a generator capable of delivering efficiency levels greater than 98 percent. It will be built by Converteam, formerly Alstom Power Conversion, using superconductive coils made by Zenergy’s German operation, Trithor GmbH.

Zenergy said further technical input is being provided by Dutch company KEMA, the Silesian University of Technology, and British company Vector Fields. A maintenance-free cryogenerator for cooling the generator is being provided by Dutch cryogenic company Stirling.

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