The United States’ National Electricity Backbone

High-capacity transmission corridors link the East and West Coasts, as well as Canada and Mexico. It is possible to balance electric supply and demand on a national basis. This gives customers “continental” access to electricity supplies, no matter where they or their suppliers are located. The national electricity backbone enables expanded distribution of electricity from:

  • Efficient generation from a multitude of sources, serving customers in a non discriminatory manner.
  • A more efficient system that can take advantage of seasonal and regional weather diversity on a national scale, including demand side management.

The backbone system will use a variety of technologies. These include controllable, very-low-impedence superconducting cables and transformers operating within the synchronous AC environment; high voltage direct current devices forming connections between regions; and other types of advanced electricity conductors, as well as information, communications, and controls technologies for supporting real time operations and national electricity transactions.

Superconducting systems reduce line losses, assure stable voltage, and expand current carrying capacities in dense urbanised areas with a minimal physical footprint. They are seamlessly integrated with high voltage DC systems and other advanced conductors for transporting electric power over long distances.

Advanced materials such as high temperature diamond materials could be applied to the transmission, distribution, and control of electricity. Diamond technology could replace silicon and yield revolutionary improvements in current density.

The cryogenic equipment used for achieving superconductivity in electric transmission is available for other purposes, such as the conversion of hydrogen gas into liquid form. Liquid hydrogen is one of the long distance transport options for the hydrogen economy. With electricity, hydrogen is the second main energy carrier for the economy. Coupling the development of advanced electricity and hydrogen technologies lowers overall infrastructure costs.