Power and automation technology group ABB has given the world its first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC) that will enable the efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy.
The company has achieved a breakthrough in the ability to interrupt direct current with this announcement after years of research.
Featuring a combination of fast mechanics and power electronics, the HVDC can 'interrupt' power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within five milliseconds.
ABB claims this is 30 times faster than the blink of a human eye and will improve both grid reliability and the capability of existing AC (alternating current) networks.
"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."
Searching for pilot projects
ABB has already set up an HVDC grid simulation centre aimed at developing solutions for future DC overlay grid operations and is currently talking to power utilities to search for pilot projects to test the new development.
Once deployed, HVDC technology will help power utilities in easy long distance transfer of power from hydropower plants.
This technology will also help in the integration of offshore wind power, development of visionary solar projects, and the interconnection of different power networks.
Use of HVDC results in several point-to-point connections in different parts of the world and the lines can be connected to optimise the network.
Each year, ABB invests more than US$1 billion annually in research and development activities and the Hybrid HVDC breaker development has been a flagship research project for the company.
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