ABB celebrates landmark power technology

2009-11-19 - HVDC Light, the technology that made remote offshore wind farms possible, turns 10 today

Zurich, Switzerland, Nov.19, 2009 – ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, today celebrates the 10th anniversary of the world's first commercial HVDC Light installation, a technological innovation that opened up new possibilities in power transmission.

ABB pioneered high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology more than 50 years ago, and the introduction of HVDC Light 10 years ago represented a landmark evolution that enabled a host of new applications including wind parks far out at sea and underground power transmission over large distances. The new technology has been sold to four continents over the past decade.

Direct current transmission technology has lower losses and a smaller footprint than alternating current systems (AC). HVDC Light is based on voltage-source converters (VSCs) and uses IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors) to convert electrical current from AC to DC.

A 10 kilovolt (kV) trial HVDC Light transmission system completed in Hällsjön-Grängesberg, Sweden in 1997 was followed by the commercial HVDC Light installation on the Swedish island of Gotland 10 years ago today.

In the 1990s, the island of Gotland, situated 90 km off the Swedish coast in the Baltic Sea, had already installed more than 40 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity and significant new installations were planned. This not only required additional transmission capacity, but also a way to maintain power quality, because intermittent wind power generation can result in flicker and variations in reactive power.

Since Gotland went live, more than 20 converter stations have been commissioned, connected by about 1,500 km of HVDC Light cables, and using in total more than 28,000 IGBTs. Work is currently in progress on the following deliveries:

  • BorWin1, the first grid connection of a remote offshore wind farm. The 400 MW wind park is located 125 km off the German coast in the North Sea
  • East West Interconnector, a 256 km-long, 500 MW transmission link between Ireland and Wales
  • Caprivi Link Interconnector, a 970 km-long, 300 MW transmission link in Namibia
HVDC Light has reached an important milestone and is now available at a power level of 1,100 MW, creating new possibilities for transmitting power over longer distances. Other applications using HVDC Light technology include the reinforcement of existing power networks; feeding isolated loads into the power network from offshore generation sites; and transmitting electric power from remote sustainable sources to the places where people live and work.

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 120,000 people.

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    Contact us

    Media contact
    • Harmeet Bawa
      Head of Communications
      ABB Power Products and Systems
      Tel: +41 43 317 6480
      Fax: +41 43 317 6482
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