Thursday, November 15, 2012

ABB Solves 100-Year-Old Electrical Puzzle – New Technology To Enable Future DC Grid

HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) apparently is cheaper to carry over very long transmission lines than AC.  This can save money for a lot of new power plants that are out in the middle of nowhere.  Power plants such as Wind and Solar PV are usually not very close to transmission lines.

The Hybrid HVDC breaker development has been a flagship research project for ABB, which invests over $1B annually in R&D activities. The breadth of ABB’s portfolio and unique combination of in-house manufacturing capability for power semiconductors, converters and high voltage cables (key components of HVDC systems) were distinct advantages in the new development.

HVDC technology is needed to facilitate the long distance transfer of power from hydropower plants, the integration of offshore wind power, the development of visionary solar projects, and the interconnection of different power networks. ABB pioneered HVDC nearly 60 years ago and continues to be a technology driver and market leader with many innovations and developments. With over 70 HVDC projects, ABB accounts for around half the global installed base, representing an installed capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts (MW).

Deployment of HVDC has led to an increasing number of point-to-point connections in different parts of the world. The logical next step is to connect the lines and optimize the network. ABB is already working on the construction of multi-terminal systems and the latest DC breaker innovation is a major step in the evolution of HVDC grids. In parallel to the new hybrid breaker development, ABB has an established HVDC grid simulation center developing solutions for future DC overlay grid operations.
Wikipedia has an article on HVDC.  Luckily, it's an easy read since I barely passed my cicuits analysis class in college.

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