ABB has announced the latest development in high voltage direct current (HVDC) Light — a technology it pioneered initially some 20 years ago — making it possible to transmit reliably large amounts of electricity over ever greater distances, economically and efficiently.
ABB is now pushing the boundaries of this technology further — the next level of ABB’s HVDC Light will enable more than doubling the power capacity to 3000MW. System design enhancements will bring a step change in compactness, with a potential to deliver 350 per cent more power per square meter of space used — a big benefit in applications like offshore wind or interconnections, in terms of converter station footprint be it on offshore platforms or onshore installations. ABB’s latest advances, doubling power and distance capability, were made possible with the development of semiconductor-based power electronic devices that provide greater control and make smaller HVDC systems economical.
“We pioneered HVDC technology in the 1950’s as a game changer, and the birth of HVDC Light in 1997 was one of the most significant milestones in our innovation journey” said Claudio Facchin, President, ABB Power Grids. “As we mark 20 years of this breakthrough, we are ready to write the next chapter of this technology, with significant enhancements that will help transmit power further with minimum losses and bring major benefits to our customers. HVDC is a cornerstone of our Next Level strategy, reinforcing our position as a partner of choice in enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”
ABB’s HVDC Light technology is said to revolutionise the transmission of large amounts of electricity over longer distances, underground, underwater and on overhead lines. Due to its versatility, it is seen as an ideal solution for applications with space limitations — it enabled interconnections between countries to support the integration and balancing of renewables while facilitating electricity trading. It has also been deployed to integrate offshore wind energy and bring the power to shore, via converter stations positioned on offshore platforms.
Increase in power capacity
The last two decades have seen significant advances in this technology. Power capacity has gone up nearly 30 times from 50 to 1400MW — enough electricity to power several million households. Voltage levels have gone up from 80 to 525kV and distance capability from 70 to over 1000km, while at the same time, transmission losses have been brought down to less than one per cent.
With a higher voltage capability of up to 640kV, the latest technology extends distance capability, doubling it to 2000km and making it possible to transmit electricity over even longer distances, enabling more renewables to be integrated and longer interconnections to be built. Losses have been reduced further, which when combined with the above enhancements translate to significant cost optimisation benefits for owners and transmission system operators.
Meanwhile the latest ABB Ability-based MACH control and protection system will provide greater efficiency and reliability and the latest converter stations also feature several design and aesthetics improvements.