A remarkable journey

2012-06-20 - The world’s largest HVDC transformers recently travelled from Ludvika in Sweden to Porto Velho in Brazil by rail, road and ship to form an integral part of the Rio-Madeira project – the longest transmission link in the world.

ABB is writing yet another chapter in the history power transmission with the Rio-Madeira HVDC (high voltage direct current) project. This power super-highway will link two new hydropower plants in the northwest of Brazil with São Paulo, its main economic hub, covering a distance of more than 2,500 kilometers. When completed this will be the longest transmission link in the world.

Seven massive 600 kV HVDC power transformers are among the key components that will regulate power flow and facilitate the efficient and reliable transmission of electricity to consumers across this vast distance. Each transformer tank has a net weight of nearly 400 tons, making them the largest such transformers ever built.

But first these transformers had to travel all the way from Ludvika in Sweden, across the Atlantic and then up the Rio Madeira river, to their final destination of Porto Velho in Brazil. This exciting journey across oceans, cities and villages by rail, road and ship requires immaculate planning and logistics to cover each stage one day at a time.

The first part of the journey was by rail from Ludvika to the Swedish port of Oxelösund where the transformers were loaded onto an ocean-going vessel headed for the city of Manaus in Brazil. The journey across the Atlantic took 20 days.

In Manaus each transformer was carefully placed on a barge to continue its voyage up the Rio Madeira river to Porto Velho. Given the weight of each transformer, seven meters of river depth was required for the barge to be able to navigate and this could only be assured during the autumn rains.

From Porto Velho it was a 20 kilometer journey to the site. For this final stage the transformers were placed on a giant freight trailer drawn by five pulling trucks that cautiously made their way by already existing and prepared roads that were specially tested in advance. This exciting journey came to its logical conclusion when the transformers finally reached their destination, ready for installation at the substation site.

ABB once again proves its ability to tackle the toughest of challenges and to develop, design and deliver leading-edge technology to any part of the world.

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