Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been a hot topic in the international science and technology industry since their discovery in 1991. A quick glance through nearly any mainstream technology publication around the world will yield dozens of articles and commentaries on the potential applications of CNTs in just about all industries. These articles include discussions of the CNT properties that make them ideal for transmission network cables and wiring. Utilities may be historically slow adopters of new technologies, but the benefits of CNTs are hard to ignore. Despite their grid efficiency and reliability benefits, CNTs bear a significant price tag, which poses a barrier to their eventual deployment across transmission and distribution (T&D) networks.
CNTs are unique due to their physical and chemical properties, which offer an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and superior conductivity, among other characteristics. They can take many forms, each of which presents its own set of advantages and challenges in both manufacturing and deployment. Among the challenges that stand in the way of widespread adoption is the relative lack of cost-effective manufacturing capabilities to produce CNTs large enough for practical grid applications. Yet, by continuing to prioritize scientific development and building strong relationships between market contributors, key players in the CNT market have the potential to improve transmission network efficiency and reliability.
This Navigant Research report provides a snapshot of the global utility market for CNTs, highlighting significant CNT characteristics and discussing challenges for grid integration. The study provides an overview of CNTs and an analysis of the potential benefits they can provide to the electric grid. In addition, this report provides recommendations for utilities, vendors, and research labs on how to overcome current obstacles and drive eventual utility deployment.