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SuperGrid Workshop

About the Conference

The US economy is expected to expand at a rate averaging 2% per annum for the foreseeable future. Moreover, it is anticipated that industrialization and urbanization of the developing world will occur at a faster pace, resulting in the prospect in 2050 of a planet with several billion more inhabitants aspiring to the standard of living now typical of the developed world. Substantial increases in energy production and consumption will invariably follow to fulfill and sustain these developments and expectations. The challenge will be to supply these energy requirements in North American and worldwide in the most efficient and environmentally benign manner with minimal emissions and effluents of any kind.

One proposal to meet these future energy needs is a concept known as the "Continental SuperGrid." As originally proposed by Chauncey Starr and others, the SuperGrid calls for the creation of a continental grid, delivering both electricity and fuel. The electric power and hydrogen would be supplied from nuclear and other source power plants spaced along the grid. Electricity would exit the system at various dc-ac taps, connecting into the existing ac power grid. The hydrogen would also exit the grid, providing a readily available, alternative fuel, for perhaps fuel-cell based automobiles, or for the storage of electricity.

The scope of this proposal was certainly ambitious. However, given its potential for significant society-wide benefits, and our need to transition from an energy infrastructure heavily dependent upon petroleum, it is also one that deserved serious consideration. To provide this consideration the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has sponsored two workshops. The first workshop, SuperGrid 1 (SG1), was held in November 2002. SG1 brought together about 35 technical experts from a variety of different disciplines.

The conclusion from SG1 was that the supergrid concept did appear to be technically viable, and that the next step should be the development of an R&D task description. The purpose of the second workshop, SuperGrid 2 (SG2), held in October 2004, was to develop this document. To accomplish this goal SG2 brought together about 60 experts from industry, government and academia, in a variety of technical areas including electric power systems, superconductivity, hydrogen and cryogenics, geotechnical and environmental engineering, and nuclear power.


SuperGrid 2
October 25-27, 2004 in Urbana, IL


SuperGrid 1
November 6-8, 2002 in Palo Alto, CA


Download Adobe Acrobat Reader here to read the conference presentation and final reports.



SuperGrid 2


Professor Tom Overbye
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign