ABB technologies that changed the world
Part one: HVDC

ABB’s high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology has had a truly revolutionary impact on the way that electrical energy is delivered to consumers all over the world.

By ABB Communications

Some of the world’s biggest cities – New York, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Delhi and Johannesburg – receive huge volumes of electric power, often transported over thousands of kilometers with remarkably low losses and minimal environmental impact, thanks to this ABB innovation.

National and regional power grids throughout Europe and the Americas interconnect their power grids and trade electricity with one another in real time thanks to this ABB technology.

Large quantities of electricity are delivered with high-performance, environmentally friendly cables thanks to this ABB invention and winner of prestigious environmental and technical awards.

Mega-size offshore wind farms consisting of hundreds of wind turbines can be connected to mainland power networks – safely, reliably and without disturbing sensitive marine environments - thanks to this ABB world-first.

And offshore oil and gas platforms receive low-cost supplies of emissions-free electricity from renewable onshore sources thanks to this pioneering ABB solution.

Record-breakers and groundbreakers
Since developing the world’s first commercial HVDC installation in the 1950s, ABB has designed and delivered more than 60 HVDC projects worldwide, many of which are record-breakers in terms of size or have set new benchmarks in terms of performance.

They include the world’s longest and most powerful HVDC installation (the Xiangjiaba- Shanghai power link currently under construction in China, which will deliver 6,400 megawatts of electricity over a distance of 2,071 km), the world’s longest underground cable and transmission system (the 180-km Murraylink project in Australia) and the world’s longest underwater cable (the 580-km NorNed interconnection between Norway and the Netherlands).

Other groundbreaking ABB HVDC installations include the world’s largest and most remote offshore wind park connection (the 400 MW NordE.ON 1 in the North Sea), the world’s first power-from-shore solution for an offshore oil and gas platform (the 84 MW Troll A project in the North Sea), and the world’s largest converter transformers (with a power rating of 621 MVA and weighing a massive 554 metric tons for the Pacific Intertie in the United States).

Power trading and clean energy
ABB’s HVDC technology has also made it possible for countries to interconnect their national power grids and improve their energy security by exchanging and trading power with their neighbors.

HVDC has interconnected the national grids of Europe, the regional grids of the United States (with each other and with Canada and Mexico), and has linked Argentina with Brazil, Mozambique with South Africa, and three Australian states with each other.

Several of these links enable recipients to import clean hydropower from a neighboring grid to reduce their use of fossil fuels in power generation and cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Classic, Light and Ultra
ABB developed and commissioned the world’s first commercial HVDC installation in Sweden in 1954. Since then ABB has continually developed the concept and broadened the number of applications.

HVDC Classic is used primarily for the bulk transport of power over long distances on land (as in China and Brazil) or across water (as between Norway and the Netherlands) and for interconnecting separate power systems where conventional AC methods of connection are not possible.

HVDC Light®, which ABB launched in 1997, enables power to be transported over long distances using overhead lines or environmentally friendly underground and underwater cables. It is used for grid interconnections and offshore links to wind farms and oil and gas platforms.

Most recently, ABB has developed an ultrahigh-voltage direct current (UHVDC) solution for the Xiangjiaba-Shanghai link in China. This power superhighway will deliver enough electricity to meet the needs of 31 million people and is considered the biggest leap in transmission capacity and efficiency in more than two decades.

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    Part of the NorNed HVDC converter station in Norway where AC power is converted into DC power and transported via underground and underwater cables to a similar converter station in the Netherlands, where it is converted back to AC power and transferred to the Dutch grid. Like many ABB HVDC solutions, NorNed is bidirectional. It enables Norway to deliver clean hydropower to Holland during the day, and Holland to export surplus energy to Norway during the night.

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