TS Advisor, Amory Lovins’ Thoughts on TS Conductor

Technology has changed enormously since Westinghouse and Edison and continues to change. HVDC is widely and expertly applied in China, Siberia, and elsewhere; ABB and others are making it much cheaper in undersea or underground cables. The whole system is changing, including power electronics, cables, and conductors. Most changes are well known, but at least one is not:

A Los Angeles firm with which I’m entering an advisory relationship (so I’m no longer independent with regard to it), TS Conductor, has been making and selling in China (to State Grid, Southern Grid,), and by mid-2022 plans to make and offer in the US, a new kind of transmission conductor with 2–3x the ampacity of today’s steel-core aluminum-stranded conductors. This means grid bottlenecks could be quickly relieved (and renewable deployment therefore accelerated) in existing Rights-of-Way by routinely reconductoring existing lines on the same towers—something utilities do all the time but that the new conductor technology makes far more valuable.

The net-present-value cost of reconductoring is negative due to reduced losses. In newbuild, up-front cost may go slightly up or significantly down (because fewer or shorter towers, usually made of now-costly steel, are needed for the same ampacity), but NPV cost is again substantially negative, i.e., the installation is profitable.

What makes all this possible is a new conductor that uses a solid carbon-fiber-composite rather than a stranded steel core to carry the mechanical tension. The composite is many fold lighter than steel, yet stronger. Protected by an annealed aluminum tube (solving issues with previous attempts), this enables the line to carry far more aluminum—which also has a better fill factor because its spiraling strands have a square rather than the traditional round cross-section. Surprisingly, the resulting conductor bends/flexes better than a steel-core one over both big radii (such as a spool) and short ones (over a sharp edge). The new conductor also installs with today’s standard equipment, tools, and training—it’s a drop-in replacement. Its greater resistance to sag adds resilience and reliability in our emerging world of hotter weather and bigger, more frequent, and longer overloads.

Planned next is a fiber-optic sensor, cheap to incorporate into the pultruded conductor and to read out in the control room using mass-produced equipment now used to read out downhold fiber sensors in fracking wells. This fiber-optic sensor will indicate real-time, real-position sag, strain (e.g., from wind loads), and temperature all along the line, enabling operators to load to actual real-time capacity rather than some worst-case assumption-based spec. Any fault location will also be immediately indicated within a few meters. This seems to me a valuable further way to stretch transmission capabilities.

This seems to me important and novel information for utilities, regulators, regional grid operators, and federal officials considering how to spend new funds to expand grids. The potential to defer or avoid major new Rights-of-Way negotiations/litigation/hassle/risk seems to me an important new tool to strengthen transmission far sooner, cheaper, and more surely than was thought possible.

Anyone interested should kindly contact CEO Jason Huang, jason@tsconductor.com, referencing me, and make your own inquiries.

Best — Amory Lovins

Advisor to TS Conductor

MDU Adopts TS Conductor’s Aluminum-Encapsulated Carbon Fiber Core Conductor

Arcadia, California, April 23, 2021 —

TS Conductor is proud to announce that a utility in the Northwest U.S. is the first company in North America to use its proprietary aluminum-encapsulated carbon fiber core conductor in its transmission system.

By using TS Conductor’s revolutionary new transmission technology, this utility was able to implement their reconductoring initiative a year ahead of schedule and at a 40% cost savings versus other transmission solutions.

The utility initiated the reconductoring project to increase the load on a 230-kilovolt transmission line from a wind farm in Napoleon, ND to the Heskett substation in Mandan, North Dakota. Wind farm development in the region has caused demand to increase, requiring the utility to find a way to expand its electrical through-put.

The total Napoleon-to-Heskett line is 60 miles long and the utility installed the TS Conductor carbon fiber core transmission line on an 11 mile stretch through Bismarck, ND. The utility was very impressed with the reconductoring using the new TS line and noted that If they had used traditional conductor, it would have required replacing all the structures on the line to maintain adequate clearance.

According to Jason Huang, CEO of TS Conductor, the utility is very impressed with TS Conductor’s patented design which was invented in North America. “This utility’s team has called our product the ‘ideal conductor” and we are very proud of this.

Jason and the team at TS Conductor see their revolutionary conductor solution as the starting point of a new era in power delivery. As Jason explains, “the electrical grid really hasn’t changed in over 100 years. In the intervening period, electrical generation, be it fossil fuel or renewables based, and the appliances and devices it powers, have all become much more efficient. Now it is time for the transmission of electricity across the grid to undergo the same kind of transformation in efficiency and it’s time for our society to focus attention on this massive opportunity!”

Today’s transmission infrastructure is not designed to facilitate fast and efficient integration of renewable generation to the grid, which has been mandated by many state and local governments. TS can help utilities accommodate this for the least amount of money and the fewest interruptions, including outages. All of this is a result of the unique and groundbreaking properties of TS Conductor.

Traditional conductor has a steel core with an aluminum exterior. The steel core is responsible for 80% of the mechanical strength of the conductor; the remainder of the strength is from the other materials that encase the core.

In a paradigm shift, the patented TS Conductor carbon fiber core is responsible for over 90% of the mechanical strength of the conductor. Additionally, the encapsulated core is the only core in existence that is made of the same conductive material, and features additional layers of annealed aluminum strands when necessary, which has a higher conductivity than the aluminum used in traditional conductor lines.

Because of its makeup, TS’s aluminum-encapsulated carbon fiber core conductor:

With more energy from renewable sources becoming available, there is a bottleneck in terms of the grid being able to facilitate fast and efficient integration of this additional generation. As state and local governments expand their mandates to utilize these new source of clean power, TS Conductor can help utilities accommodate new conductoring and reconductoring for the least amount of money and with the fewest interruptions, including outages.

TS can also help with initiatives to build new solar or wind farms by supplying the tie-in lines to the grid. These projects can save considerably on capital expenses and operating expenses while they make their projects “future proof” due to TS Conductor’s ability to accommodate almost double the amperage of comparably sized ACSR conductors.

Adopting TS Conductor will also allow utilities and grid operators to reduce their dependence on the compensatory generation that is used to make up for line loss after generation. Compensatory generation was responsible for approximately a billion metric tons in greenhouse gases as of 2020. TS can cut this in half just through their technology and the avoided line loss could pay for the entire cost of reconductoring in just a few years.

Projects like the one with this U.S. utility are just the beginning for TS Conductor, which will be rolling out projects with other major utilities in the coming months.

With TS Conductor, utlities enjoy the greater amount of megawatt transfer ampacity for the lowest installed cost.

For more information on TS Conductor, please contact Jason Huang at: (818) 430-5831