Delivering electrical power demands a true balancing act. Every day, utilities try to balance the needs of the rate-payer and the community; the requirements of government agencies; and the limitations of the electrical grid. And they do this as construction costs are rising, public opposition to construction is increasing and the infrastructure is aging.
3M has offered a full portfolio of solutions for low- and medium-voltage applications for more than 40 years. The company never stops innovating to create a stronger, more reliable grid and recently has tackled the challenges surrounding high-voltage transmission.
The newer innovations include 3M™ Aluminum Conductor Composite Reinforced (ACCR). 3M ACCR allows utilities to upgrade their overhead transmission lines while minimizing the need for new rights-of-way and costly new infrastructure. 3M ACCR provides the capacity to manage energy from renewable-generation resources and regional transactions while meeting reliability standards.
“3M ACCR solves many constraints to upgrading existing lines,” said Paul Steece, vice president and general manager, 3M Electrical Markets Division. “This includes challenging installations where there is a long span or a water crossing; and congested cities like Mumbai in India, where there is a need to move more power with existing towers. We believe we have the highest-performing conductor in the marketplace, and it has gained market acceptance.”
The first commercial installation was at Xcel Energy in Minneapolis, which has been operating flawlessly since 2005.
“One of my favorite installations is the National Grid in Massachusetts, a multiyear project,” Steece explained. “They still had copper conductor in place that was installed in 1924 — that’s 87 years, operating just fine. They needed to get more power through these areas. So the best solution was to put up 3M ACCR on the existing towers, which required less permitting and fewer land and rights-of-way issues. And they expect something that will last another 87 years.”
Another installation involved a South American utility that had a sag and clearance issue. The old conductor was running across a port and, with ships getting bigger, sag became an issue. In order to keep the port going they had two choices: raise the existing towers 40 feet, which is doable but extremely expensive, or take the old conductor down. 3M quickly provided the utility with a solution, installing 3M ACCR in the old conductor’s place, and kept the port open.
In all, 3M has 70 installs. “We’re just about everywhere,” said Steece.
3M(TM) ACCR Enhanced 3M Campus Install 6
3M(TM) ACCR Enhanced BCTC Install 2
3M(TM) ACCR Enhanced Cable Product 1