The Evolution of power cable systems

Power Cable Systems

Cables and accessories up to the highest voltages, AC or DC, for underground and submarine applications.

The evolution of power cable systems
ABB has always been a pioneer in the high-voltage field and we have many worlds’ first and world records among our references. We delivered our first electrical cable in 1883, and ever since have retained our position as one of the leading manufacturers of power cable systems. Our intensive research and development of production techniques, material and design have resulted in reliable cable systems, transmitting ever-higher power at higher voltages.

HVAC and HVDC paper-lapped cables - a pioneer
There are mainly two different types of paper-lapped cables: the LPFF (Low Pressure Fluid-Filled) design and the MIND (Mass Impregnated Non-Draining) design. The designs differ with respect to the type of oil used, the method of maintaining adequate pressure inside the cable, as well as the type of conductor. Hence, they are used in different applications - LPFF for both AC and DC, and MIND nowadays only for DC, and both at high voltages of up to at least 500 kV.

ABB was the first manufacturer to successfully meet the challenge of producing and installing 400 kV LPFF cables in Sweden in 1952. In the 1950’s, many people were still dubious about managing the development of HVDC transmission systems for higher voltages with MIND technology. ABB showed once again, after long and extensive research, that this was possible. The first HVDC transmission system in the world was installed between Sweden and the island of Gotland in 1954. The cable system it used was 100 kilometers long, and it was operated at 100 kV.

Since then, cable systems have been one of the cutting edges of ABB power technology. In combination with professional project management and high skills, cable systems for increasingly higher power at higher voltages have been developed, produced and installed.

In fact, almost all installations after 1952 are breakthroughs in power, voltage or length.

HVAC XLPE cables - a pioneer
XLPE cables (cross-linked polyethylene) are, in contrast to paper-lapped cables, made of a solid plastic material. This offers many advantages, such as no maintenance and environmentally friendly features.

ABB installed the first 145 kV XLPE cable in 1973. At that time, this cable technology was new for HV applications. One of the cornerstones of XLPE cable is the quality of the material that goes into its production. After more than 30 years of development, improvements in cleanliness, pellet manufacturing and extrusion mean today’s XLPE cables just keep getting better. Higher electrical stress is possible today and the installation of 400 and 500 kV XLPE cables is a reality.

HVDC extruded cables - a pioneer
Since the advantages of extruded and solid materials are obvious, ABB once again was the first to develop, produce and install a complete HVDC extruded cable system, in the mid-1990’s. The benefits of these systems are not only the cable itself, but also the type of converters used at both ends of the cable system. The IGBT- converter technology is ideal for the connection of weak networks, or when you simply want good voltage, power and short-circuit control of your system.

ABB installed the worlds longest land cable system in 2002, and the first sub-sea cable system was installed in 2002 as well.

Our world records show the importance of research and development:

  • 1952 World’s first 400 kV-transmission, LPFF
  • 1954 World’s first HVDC-transmission, MIND
  • 1973 World's first HV extruded submarine cable transmission, XLPE
  • 1973 World’s first 400 kV submarine cable transmission, LPFF
  • 1989 World's first 400 kV HVDC submarine cable transmission, MIND
  • 1994 World's first 450 kV HVDC submarine cable transmission, MIND
  • 1996 Europe’s first 420 kV XLPE
  • 1998 World’s first extruded HVDC underground transmission, HVDC Light
  • 2002 World’s longest underground transmission, HVDC Light
  • 2002 World’s first extruded HVDC submarine transmission, HVDC Light

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