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USD 1.5bn smart grid project to transfer energy across the US receives investment from Japan

World first superstation will interconnect US major grids for energy producers to transfer renewable power

It will interconnect the US's three main electricity grids, including Texas
The Tres Amigas superstation will interconnect the US's three main electricity grids, including Texas

A billion project to build a smart grid superstation in the US has moved forward after receiving investment from a Japanese trading company. Mitsui & Co, a global trading, IT and industrial infrastructure services company, has agreed to invest USD 12m into the Tres Amigas project, which will see the development of a superstation to interconnect the electricity grids across the US.

The company will be involved in managing the large scale infrastructure of the project, in exchange for internationalising its own “Smart Green” information technology.”

The project, known as the Tres Amigas SuperStation, represents the world’s first high capacity renewable energy hub. The power transmission hub is designed to interconnect the US’s three primary electricity grids, the eastern, western and Texan networks. It aims to help the country achieve its energy goals and facilitate the smooth, reliable and efficient transfer of green power from region to region.

The initial power transfer capacity will be 750MW between the western and eastern grids. Once energised, energy producers and marketers can transfer sizable blocks of power from region to region. Energy purchasers will also have access to regions heretofore inaccessible for their needs.

In addition to improving the reliability, efficiency and economics of the nation’s separate grids, the aim for the superstation is to also create firm and reliable renewable power from intermittent renewable sources such as solar and wind. This will allow customers to purchase a reliable portfolio of power with the largest possible component of solar and wind.

Phillip Harris, CEO of Tres Amigas, said: “Tres Amigas is pleased to formalise a working relationship with Mitsui for the realisation of the Tres Amigas SuperStation. Apart from the purely electrical engineering aspects of the project, the commercial operation of the superstation requires intensive use of information systems and technology, as well as management of large scale infrastructure. Mitsui’s worldwide experience in these areas will be invaluable.”

By partnering with Tres Amigas, Mitsui says it plans to further internationalise its “Smart Green Information Technology” business model. This includes Smart Grid IT, renewable energy development and management, and CO2 emissions mitigation strategies.

The development of the Tres Amigas superstation is expected to occur in stages. Engineering design for phase one is well underway, with construction scheduled to commence in 2012. Phase one commercial operations are scheduled to start in 2015.