A groundbreaking power transmission technology has emerged in Woburn, Massachusetts, promising to redefine energy distribution efficiency while minimizing visual impact. VEIR, a startup co-founded by MIT alumnus Tim Heidel, has developed an innovative approach using superconducting cables and an advanced cooling system. This technology boosts transmission capacity, surpassing conventional lines by five to ten times, addressing the urgent global need for robust transmission infrastructure to support renewable energy integration and grid resilience.

VEIR’s technology relies on superconducting cables and an advanced cooling system, enabling their lines to initially carry up to 400 megawatts of power, with plans for even higher capacities in the future. “We can deploy much higher power levels at much lower voltage, and so we can deploy the same high power but with a footprint and visual impact that is far less intrusive,” said Heidel. This breakthrough not only increases capacity but also addresses regulatory and community opposition that have hindered many transmission projects.

The need for expanded transmission capacity is pressing, with over 10,000 renewable energy projects seeking grid connections in the US alone and ambitious decarbonization goals set for 2035. Heidel emphasizes that traditional methods of increasing grid capacity often fail due to complexity and opposition. “Building high-power transmission infrastructure can take a decade or more, and there’s been quite a few examples of projects that folks have had to abandon because there’s just so much opposition, or there’s too much complexity to pull it off cost-effectively,” he noted.

VEIR’s approach not only tackles the technical challenges of increasing power transmission but also aims to streamline the deployment process. By leveraging advancements in superconducting cables and innovative cooling systems, originally developed in part by Steve Ashworth at Los Alamos National Laboratory, VEIR’s technology promises higher efficiency and reliability in transmitting electricity over long distances.

VEIR plans to launch its first large-scale pilot by 2026, targeting utility companies, data centers, industrial sites, and renewable energy developers as key customers. The initial product line boasts impressive capabilities, with transmission capacities of up to 400 megawatts and voltages reaching 69 kilovolts. Future iterations aim to scale even further, potentially integrating direct current (DC) lines for enhanced efficiency.

Heidel remains optimistic about the broader implications of VEIR’s technology, asserting, “Just about every single decarbonization scenario… concludes that to achieve aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reductions, we’re going to have to double or triple the scale of power grids around the world.”

By Impact Lab