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Featured Video - ABB Power Grids - 12th June 2017

The Evolution of HVDC Light

The evolution of HVDC Light

20 years ago, ABB pioneered another breakthrough: HVDC Light®. In the last two decades, ABB has increased the power capacity, raised the voltage levels and increased the distance capability while reducing transmission losses. Today, the latest offering brings significant enhancements and benefits to customers.

HVDC Light, based on VSC technology (Voltage Sourced Converter), is designed to transmit power underground and under water, also over long distances. It offers numerous environmental benefits, including "invisible" power lines, neutral electromagnetic fields, oil-free cables and compact converter stations.

HVDC Light increases the reliability of power grids, and the technology extends the economical power range of HVDC transmission down to just a few tens of Megawatts (MW). In the upper range, the technology now reaches 3,000 MW and ±640 kV - enough electricity to power several million households and enabling power transmission over 2,000 kilometers. The system design enables compact converter stations a big benefit in applications like offshore wind and interconnections.

It is quick to install and provides an alternative to conventional AC transmission systems and local generation in several cases, such as:

  • Connecting wind farms to power grids
  • Underground power links
  • Providing shore power supplies to islands and offshore oil & gas platforms
  • Connecting asynchronous grids
  • City centre infeed

Utilities are under extreme pressure to meet consumer and regulatory demands for a high quality, competitively priced power supply that has low environmental impact. The expansion of AC transmission capacity is often limited by local planning regulations and the concerns of local residents who object to the installation of new overhead lines.

It is now economically feasible to expand transmission capacity using underground HVDC cables. This approach not only minimises environmental impact, it also improves the quality of the power supply.

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