Compared to conventional generators of similar power rating, HTS enables very compact generator units with much reduced mass.
The greatest benefits in terms of size and mass are for high-torque electric machines such as direct-drive wind turbine generators, positively reducing head mass too.
Several other international parties are working on HTS-technology, including US-based AMSC with its 10MW direct-drive turbine called SeaTitan.
GE's Hydrogenie uses superconductors operating at 43 Kelvin or -230 degrees Celsius instead of common generator rotor winding copper wires. According to GE experts, superconductivity could until recently only be achieved at around 4K (-269°C).
The new superconductors exhibit the phenomenon at substantially higher temperatures, requiring less-complex insulation systems and less powerful cooling devices.
They are manufactured by depositing a superconducting ceramic layer on to relatively cheap base metal.
As there is virtually no electrical resistance at -230°C, the wires cross-section can be reduced to around 2% compared with copper wire of similar capacity. Many more windings fitted into electromagnet coils explain the compact lightweight design.