How to solve 100 times 100

100 year old puzzle solved

After several years of research, ABB developed the world's first circuit breaker for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission. The switch combines the fastest mechanics with power electronics. In just five milliseconds - thirty times faster than the blink of an eye - it will be able to "interrupt" direct current that corresponds to the output of a large power plant.

This breakthrough removes a 100 year hurdle to the development of direct current transmission networks that enable the efficient integration of renewable energies over long distances. In addition, direct current (DC) networks will improve the stability of the existing alternating current (AC) networks. ABB is currently in discussions with transmission system operators to agree on pilot projects for the new product.

"ABB has started a new chapter in the history of electrical engineering," said Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB. “This historic breakthrough makes it possible to build the network of the future. Direct current overlay networks will efficiently and stably connect countries and continents with one another and strengthen the existing alternating current transmission networks. "

The development of the HVDC hybrid switch is one of ABB's flagship research projects, which annually invests over $ 1 billion in research and development. . The company's broad portfolio and the unique advantage of manufacturing power semiconductors, converters and high-voltage cables (key components of an HVDC system) in-house were decisive factors in this new development.

HVDC technology enables the long-distance transport of electricity from remote hydropower plants, the connection of offshore wind farms, the development of visionary solar projects and the connection of different power grids with different frequencies. ABB pioneered HVDC technology almost 60 years ago and is still the technology and market leader in this area with many innovations. The company has carried out over 70 HVDC projects with a total installed capacity of over 60,000 megawatts (MW) and is therefore responsible for half of the systems installed worldwide.

The use of HVDC technology has led to a growing number of point-to-point connections in various parts of the world. The next logical step is to connect the lines and optimize the network. ABB is already working on the construction of multi-terminal systems, and the innovative DC switch marks a significant step in the development of HVDC networks. In parallel to the work on the new hybrid switch, ABB has set up an HVDC network simulation center that designs solutions for the operation of future DC overlay networks.