ABB, Hitachi JV to transform Japan’s energy sector with HVDC

ABB announced it will form a joint venture (JV) with Hitachi to deliver high voltage direct current (HVDC) system solutions in Japan.

Based in Tokyo, the new JV will be responsible for the design, engineering, supply and after-sales services related to the DC system of HVDC projects, ABB said in a statement. Hitachi will have a majority share (51 percent) in the JV.

The new joint venture will combine Hitachi’s sales network, project management expertise, quality assurance processes and delivery performance record, with ABB’s expertise in HVDC technologies, and contribute to innovation in electric power systems in Japan, the company said.

abb-hitachi jv

The JV is expected to open new opportunities in future collaboration between the two companies.  With over 100 years of experience in Japanese market, Hitachi has participated in every HVDC project in Japan and has continued to underpin the stabilization of the electricity grid, says Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and CEO of Hitachi.

HVDC is ideal for long-distance electricity transmission.  The technology is gaining popularity because of its ability to minimize electricity loss, as well as its lower space requirements and construction costs. It is also suited for interconnections between two different frequencies. The system will find major applications in smart grid and renewable energy integration.

HVDC has also supported the growth VSC-HVDC transmission systems, which facilitate grid-stabilization. The technology is ideal for long-distance underground and underwater power links and interconnections, and is increasingly being deployed across a range of applications like integration of onshore and offshore wind farms and supplying power to islands and offshore oil and gas platforms, city center in-feeds where space is a major constraint, and cross-border interconnections that often require subsea links.

In Japan, nine HVDC projects were carried out up to 2006, all of them using the LCC type. Now, with the increasing introduction of renewable energy and innovation in electric power systems, demand for VSC-HVDC systems is expected to increase for applications such as wide-area power transmission grids and connection of offshore wind farms, Hitachi said.

ABB pioneered HVDC technology. The company says it has put into operation the world’s first commercial link in Sweden in 1954, and was the first to introduce VSC technology (HVDC Light) in the 1990s.

ABB has been awarded around 100 HVDC projects representing a total installed capacity of more than 120,000 MW, accounting for about half of the global installed base. ABB’s HVDC Light solution, a well-known VSC technology, has delivered 14 of the 15 VSC links that have been commissioned worldwide.

“By enhancing and expanding the HVDC business through its partnership with ABB, which has a strong performance record in the global market, Hitachi will continue to contribute to the stabilization of Japan’s electric power grid,” Nakanishi added.

“ABB pioneered HVDC 60 years ago and has continually pushed the boundaries of this technology,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB. “Our presence across half the world’s installed base and our capability to develop and manufacture all major components of the HVDC value chain in house have put us in a leading position in the industry.”

Rajani Baburajan