automation technology, announced a new technology that can solve a 100-year-old
electrical engineering puzzle and paving the way for a more efficient and
reliable electricity supply system.
ABB has developed the world’s first circuit breaker for high
voltage direct current (HVDC). It combines very fast mechanics with power
electronics, and will be capable of ‘interrupting’ power flows equivalent to
the output of a large power station within 5milliseconds- that is thirty times
faster than the blink of a human eye.
The breakthrough removes a 100-year-old barrier to the
development of DC transmission grids, which will enable the efficient
integration and exchange of renewable energy. DC grids will also
improve grid reliability and enhance the capability of existing AC (alternating
current) networks. ABB is in discussions with power utilities to identify pilot
projects for the new development.
The Hybrid HVDC breaker development has been a flagship
research project for ABB, which invests over $1 billion 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.
“ABB has written a new chapter in the history of electrical
engineering,” said Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB. “This historical breakthrough will
make it possible to build the grid of the future. Overlay DC grids will be able
to interconnect countries and continents, balance loads and reinforce the existing
AC transmission networks.”