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A Training Report on

HIGH VOLTAGE DIRECT CURRENT TRANSMISSION

2011-2012

POWER GRID CORPORATION OF INDIA LIMITED CORPORATE CENTER, GURGAON

SAURABH ANAND (0702921100) HIMANSHU PRATAP SHINGH(070) ELECTRICAL & ELECTRONICS ENGG. KRISHNA INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY GHAZIABAD

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I take this opportunity to express my thanks to all who have in various ways helped me to attain my objective of successfully completing my training at POWER GRID CORPORATION OF INDIA LIMITED CORPORATE CENTER, GURGAON. I would specially like to thanks Mr.V.K. Singh Chief Manager (HRD), Mr. V.S. Bhal Chief Manager(DMS) and Mr. Saurabh Sonal who have encouraged and supported me in various phases of training. I also thanks all the staff and worker of the office for their constant help , suggestion and training. Last but not the least I would like to thanks my teachers and friends for supporting me in all possible ways.

Saurabh Anand Himanshu Pratap Singh

CONTENT
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Introduction Synopsis HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) High voltage transmission History of HVDC transmission Advantages of HVDC over AC transmission Disadvantages Costs of high voltage DC transmission Rectifying and inverting 9.1 9.2 10. Components Rectifying and inverting systems

Configurations 10.1 Monopole and earth return

10.2 Bipolar 10.3 Back to back 10.4 Systems with transmission lines 10.5 Tripole: current-modulating control 11. 12. Corona discharge Applications 12.1 Overview 12.2 AC network interconnections 12.3 Renewable electricity superhighways 12.4 Voltage Sourced Converters (VSC)

Introduction
Electric power transmission was originally developed with direct current. The availability of transformers and the development and improvement of induction motors at the beginning of the 20 th Century, led to greater appeal and use of a.c. transmission. Through research and development in Sweden at Allmana Svenska Electriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA), an improved multi-electrode grid controlled mercury arc valve for high powers and voltages was developed from 1929. Experimental plants were set up in the 1930s in Sweden and the USA to investigate the use of mercury arc valves in conversion processes for transmission and frequency changing. D.c. transmission now became practical when long distances were to be covered or where cables were required. The increase in need for electricity after the Second World War stimulated research, particularly in Sweden and in Russia. In 1950, a 116 km experimental transmission line was commissioned from Moscow to Kasira at 200 kV. The first commercial HVDC line built in 1954 was a 98 km submarine cable with ground return between the island of Gotland and the Swedish mainland. Thyristors were applied to d.c. transmission in the late 1960s and solid state valves became a reality. In 1969, a contract for the Eel River d.c. link in Canada was awarded as the first application of sold state valves for HVDC transmission. Today, the highest functional d.c. voltage for d.c. transmission is +/- 600 kV for the 785 km transmission line of the Itaipu scheme in Brazil. D.c. transmission is now an integral part of the delivery of electricity in many countries throughout the world.

Synopsis
Beginning with a brief historical perspective on the development of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission systems, this paper presents an overview of the status of HVDC systems in the world today. It then reviews the underlying technology of HVDC systems, and discusses the HVDC systems from adesign, construction, operation and maintenance points of view. The paper then discusses the recent developments in HVDC technologies. The paper also presents an economic and financial comparison of HVDC system with those of an AC system; and provides a brief review of reference installations of HVDC systems. The paper concludes with a brief set of guidelines for choosing HVDC systems in todays electricity system development. In today electricity industry, in view of the liberalisation and increased effects to conserve the environment, HVDC solutions have become more desirable for the following reasons: Environmental advantages Economical (cheapest solution) Asynchronous interconnections Power flow control Added benefits to the transmission (stability, power quality etc.)

High-voltage direct current


A high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) electric power transmission system uses direct current for the bulk transmission of electrical power, in contrast with the more common alternating current systems. For long-distance transmission, HVDC systems may be less expensive and suffer lower electrical losses. For underwater power cables, HVDC avoids the heavy currents required by the cable capacitance. For shorter distances, the higher cost of DC conversion equipment compared to an AC system may still be warranted, due to other benefits of direct current links. HVDC allows power transmission between unsynchronized AC distribution systems, and can increase system stability by preventing cascading failures from propagating from one part of a wider power transmission grid to another.
Long distance HVDC lines carrying hydroelectricity from Canada's Nelson river to this station where it is converted to AC for use in Winnipeg's local grid

The modern form of HVDC transmission uses technology developed extensively in the 1930s in Sweden at ASEA. Early commercial installations included one in the Soviet Union in 1951 between Moscow and Kashira, and a 1020 MW system between Gotland and mainland Sweden in 1954. The longest HVDC link in the world is currently the XiangjiabaShanghai 2,071 km (1,287 mi) 6400 MW link connecting the Xiangjiaba Dam to Shanghai, in the People's Republic of China. In 2012, the longest HVDC link will be the Rio Madeira link connecting the Amazonas to the So Paulo area where the length of the DC line is over 2,500 km (1,600 mi).Many of these transfer power from renewable sources such as hydro and wind. For names, see also the annotated version.

The HVDC technology The fundamental process that occurs in an HVDC system is the conversion of electrical current from AC to DC (rectifier) at the transmitting end, and from DC to AC (inverter) at the receiving end. There are three ways of achieving conversion:

Natural Commutated Converters. Natural commutated converters are most used in the HVDC systems as of today. The component that enables this conversion process is the thyristor, which is a controllable semiconductor that can carry very high currents (4000 A) and is able to block very high voltages (up to 10 kV). By means of connecting the thyristors in series it is possible to build up a thyristor valve, which is able to operate at very high voltages (several hundred of kV).The thyristor valve is operated at net frequency (50 hz or 60 hz) and by means of a control angle it is possible to change the DC voltage level of the bridge. This ability is the way by which the transmitted power is controlled rapidly and efficiently. Capacitor Commutated Converters (CCC). An improvement in the thyristor-based commutation, the CCC concept is characterised by the use of commutation capacitors inserted in series between the converter transformers and the thyristor valves. The commutation capacitors improve the commutation failure performance of the converters when connected to weak networks. Forced Commutated Converters. This type of converters introduces a spectrum of advantages, e.g. feed of passive networks (without generation), independent control of active and reactivepower, power quality. The valves of these converters are built up with semiconductors with the ability not only to turn-on but also to turn-off. They are known as VSC (Voltage Source Converters). Two types of semiconductors are normally used in the voltage source converters: the GTO (Gate Turn-Off Thyristor) or the IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor). Both of them have been in frequent use in industrial applications since early eighties. The VSC commutates with high frequency (not with the net frequency). The operation of the converter is achieved by Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). With PWM it is possible to create any phase angle and/or amplitude (up to a certain limit) by changing the PWM pattern, which can be done almost instantaneously. Thus, PWM offers the possibility to control both active and reactive power independently. This makes the PWM Voltage Source Converter a close to ideal component in the transmission network. From a transmission network viewpoint, it acts as a motor or generator without mass that can control active and reactive power almost instantaneously.

Why use DC transmission? The question is often asked, Why use d.c. transmission? One response is that losses are lower, but this is not correct. The level of losses is designed into a transmission system and is regulated by the size of conductor selected. D.c. and a.c. conductors, either as overhead transmission lines or submarine cables can have lower losses but at higher expense since the larger cross-sectional area will generally result in lower losses but cost more.

When converters are used for d.c. transmission in preference to a.c. transmission, it is generally by economic choice driven by one of the following reasons: 1. An overhead d.c. transmission line with its towers can be designed to be less costly per unit of length than an equivalent a.c. line designed to transmit the same level of electric power. However the d.c. converter stations at each end are more costly than the terminating stations of an a.c. line and so there is a breakeven distance above which the total cost of d.c. transmission is less than its a.c. transmission alternative. The d.c. transmission line can have a lower visual profile than an equivalent a.c. line and so contributes to a lower environmental impact. There are other environmental advantages to a d.c. transmission line through the electric and magnetic fields being d.c. instead of ac. 2. If transmission is by submarine or underground cable, the breakeven distance is much less than overhead transmission. It is not practical to consider a.c. cable systems exceeding 50 km but d.c. cable transmission systems are in service whose length is in the hundreds of kilometers and even distances of 600 km or greater have been considered feasible. 3. Some a.c. electric power systems are not synchronized to neighboring networks even though their physical distances between them is quite small. This occurs in Japan where half the country is a 60 hz network and the other is a 50 hz system. It is physically impossible to connect the two together by direct a.c. methods in order to exchange electric power between them. However, if a d.c. converter station is located in each system with an interconnecting d.c. link between them, it is possible to transfer the required power flow even though the a.c. systems so connected remain asynchronous.

Configuration The integral part of an HVDC power converter is the valve or valve arm. It may be noncontrollable if constructed from one or more power diodes in series or controllable if constructed from one or more thyristors in series. Figure 1 depicts the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) graphical symbols for valves and bridges (1). The standard bridge or converter connection is defined as a double-way connection comprising six valves or valve arms which are connected as illustrated in Figure . Electric power flowing between the HVDC valve group and the a.c. system is three phase. When electric power flows into the d.c. valve group from the a.c. system then it is considered a rectifier. If power flows from the d.c. valve group into the a.c. system, it is an inverter. Each valve consists of many series connected thyristors in thyristor modules. Figure represents the electric circuit network depiction for the six pulse valve group configuration. The six pulse valve group was usual when the valves were mercury arc.

Standard graphical symbols for valves and bridges

Electric circuit configuration of the basic six pulse valve group with its converter transformer in starstar connection.

Twelve Pulse Valve Group Nearly all HVDC power converters with thyristor valves are assembled in a converter bridge of twelve pulse configuration. Figure 3 demonstrates the use of two three phase converter transformers with one d.c. side winding as an ungrounded star connection and the other a delta configuration. Consequently the a.c. voltages applied to each six pulse valve group which make up the twelve pulse valve group have a phase difference of 30 degrees which is utilized to cancel the a.c. side 5th and 7th harmonic currents and d.c. side 6th harmonic voltage, thus resulting in a significant saving in harmonic filters. Figure 3 th also shows the outline around each of the three groups of four valves in a single vertical stack. These are known as quadrivalves and are assembled as one valve structure by stacking four valves in series. Since the voltage rating of thyristors is several kV, a 500 kV quadrivalve may have hundreds of individual thyristors connected in series groups of valve or thyristor modules. A quadrivalve for a high voltage converter is mechanically quite tall and may be suspended from the ceiling of the valve hall, especially in locations susceptible to earthquakes.

Thyristor Module A thyristor or valve module is that part of a valve in a mechanical assembly of series connected thyristors and their immediate auxiliaries including heat sinks cooled by air, water or glycol, damping circuits and valve firing electronics. A thyristor module is usually interchangeable for maintenance purposes and consists of electric components as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Components of the thyristor modules which make up a valve or quadrivalve.

Substation Configuration The central equipment of a d.c. substation (2) are the thyristor converters which are usually housed inside a valve hall. Outdoor valves have been applied such as in the Cahora Bassa d.c. transmission line between Mozambique and South Africa. Figure 5 shows an example of the electrical equipment required for a d.c. substation. In this example, two poles are represented which is the usual case and is known as the bipole configuration. Some d.c. cable systems only have one pole or monopole configuration and may either use the ground as a return path when permitted or use an additional cable to avoid earth currents. From Figure 5, essential equipment in a d.c. substation in addition to the valve groups include the converter transformers. Their purpose is to transform the a.c. system voltage to which the d.c. system is connected so that the correct d.c. voltage is derived by the converter bridges. For higher rated d.c. substations, converter transformers for 12 pulse operation are usually comprised of single phase units which is a cost effective way to provide spare units for increased reliability. The secondary or d.c. side windings of the converter transformers are connected to the converter bridges. The converter transformer is located in the switchyard, and if the converter bridges are located in the valve hall, the connection has to be made through its wall. This is accomplished in either of two ways. Firstly, with phase isolated busbars where the bus conductors are housed within insulated bus ducts with oil or SF6 as the insulating medium or secondly, with wall bushings. When applied at d.c. voltages at 400 kV or greater, wall bushings require considerable design and care to avoid external or internal insulation breakdown. Harmonic filters are required on the a.c. side and usually on the d.c. side. The characteristic a.c. side current harmonics generated by 6 pulse converters are 6n +/- 1 and 12n +/- 1 for 12 pulse converters where n equals all positive integers. A.c. filters are typically tuned to 11th , 13th , 23rd and 25th harmonics for 12 pulse converters. Tuning to the 5th and 7th harmonics is required if the converters can be configured into 6 pulse operation. A.c. side harmonic filters may be switched with circuit breakers or circuit switches to accommodate reactive power requirement strategies since these filters generate reactive power at fundamental frequency. A parallel resonance is naturally created between the capacitance of the a.c. filters and the inductive impedance of the a.c. system. For the special case where such a resonance is lightly damped and tuned to a frequency between the 2nd and 4th harmonic, then a low order harmonic filter at the 2nd or 3rd harmonic may be required, even for 12 pulse converter operation.

Characteristic d.c. side voltage harmonics generated by a 6 pulse converter are of the order 6n and when generated by a 12 pulse converter, are of the order 12n. D.c. side filters reduce harmonic current flow on d.c. transmission lines to minimize coupling and interference to adjacent voice frequency communication circuits. Where there is no d.c. line such as in the backto-back configuration, d.c. side filters may not be required. D.c. reactors are usually included in each pole of a converter station. They assist the d.c. filters in filtering harmonic currents and smooth the d.c. side current so that a discontinuous current mode is not reached at low load current operation. Because rate of change of d.c. side current is limited by the d.c. reactor, the commutation process of the d.c. converter is made more robust. Surge arresters across each valve in the converter bridge, across each converter bridge and in the d.c. and a.c. switchyard are coordinated to protect the equipment from all overvoltages regardless of their source. They may be used in non-standard applications such as filter protection. Modern HVDC substations use metal-oxide arresters and their rating and selection is made with careful insulation coordination design.

High voltage transmission


High voltage (in either DC or AC electrical power transmission applications) is used for electric power transmission to reduce the energy lost in the resistance of the wires. For a given quantity of power transmitted and size of conductor, doubling the voltage will deliver the same power at only half the current. Since the power lost as heat in the wires is proportional to the square of the current, but does not depend in any major way on the voltage delivered by the power line, doubling the voltage in a power system reduces the line-loss loss per unit of electrical power delivered by a factor of 4. Power loss in transmission lines can also be reduced by reducing resistance, for example by increasing the diameter of the conductor; but larger conductors are heavier and more expensive. High voltages cannot easily be used for lighting and motors, and so transmission-level voltages must be reduced to values compatible with end-use equipment. Transformers are used to change the voltage level in alternating current (AC) transmission circuits. The competition between the direct current (DC) of Thomas Edison and the AC of Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse was known as the War of Currents, with AC becoming dominant. Practical manipulation of high power high voltage DC became possible with the development of high power electronic rectifier devices such as mercury arc valves and, more recently starting in the 1970s, high power semiconductor devices such as high power thyristors and 21st century high power variants such as integrated gate-commutated thyristors (IGCTs), MOS controlled thyristors (MCTs) and gate turn-off thyristors (GTOs). A similar high power transistor device called the insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) has recently been used in these applications.

History of HVDC transmission


It has been widely documented in the history of the electricity industry, that the first commercial electricity generated (by Thomas Alva Edison) was direct current (DC) electrical power. The first electricity transmission systems were also direct current systems. However, DC power at low voltage could not be transmitted over long distances, thus giving rise to high voltage alternating current (AC) electrical systems. Nevertheless, with the development of high voltage valves, it was possible to once again transmit DC power at high voltages and over long distances, giving rise to HVDC transmission systems. Some important milestones in the development of the DC transmission technology are presented in Box

HVDC in 1971: this 150 kV mercury arc valve converted AC hydropower voltage for transmission to distant cities from Manitoba Hydro generators.

The first long-distance transmission of electric power was demonstrated using direct current in 1882 at the Miesbach-Munich Power Transmission, but only 2.5 kW was transmitted. An early method of high-voltage DC transmission was developed by the Swiss engineer Ren Thury and his method was put into practice by 1889 in Italy by the Acquedotto De Ferrari-Galliera company. This system used series-connected motor-generator sets to increase voltage. Each set was insulated from ground
Bipolar system pylons of the Baltic-CableHVDC in Sweden

and driven by insulated shafts from a prime mover. The line was operated in constant current mode, with up to 5,000 volts on each machine, some machines having double commutators to reduce the voltage on each commutator. This system transmitted 630 kW at 14 kV DC over a distance of 120 km. The Moutiers-Lyonsystem transmitted 8,600 kW of hydroelectric power a distance of 124 miles, including 6 miles of underground cable. The system used eight seriesconnected generators with dual commutators for a total voltage of 150,000 volts between the poles, and ran from about 1906 until 1936. Fifteen Thury systems were in operation by 1913 Other Thury systems operating at up to 100 kV DC operated up to the 1930s, but the rotating machinery required high maintenance and had high energy loss. Various other electromechanical devices were tested during the first half of the 20th century with little commercial success. One conversion technique attempted for conversion of direct current from a high transmission voltage to lower utilization voltage was to charge series-connected batteries, then connect the batteries in parallel to serve distribution loads. While at least two commercial installations were tried around the turn of the 20th century, the technique was not generally useful owing to the limited capacity of batteries, difficulties in switching between series and parallel connections, and the inherent energy inefficiency of a battery charge/discharge cycle. The grid controlled mercury arc valve became available for power transmission during the period 1920 to 1940. Starting in 1932, General Electric tested mercury-vapor valves and a 12 kV DC transmission line, which also served to convert 40 Hz generation to serve 60 Hz loads, atMechanicville, New York. In 1941, a 60 MW, +/-200 kV, 115 km buried cable link was designed for the city of Berlin using mercury arc valves (Elbe-Project), but owing to the collapse of the German government in 1945 the project was never completed. The nominal justification for the project was Schematic diagram of a Thury HVDC that, during wartime, a buried cable would be less transmission system conspicuous as a bombing target. The equipment was moved to the Soviet Union and was put into service there. Introduction of the fully static mercury arc valve to commercial service in 1954 marked the beginning of the modern era of HVDC transmission. A HVDC-connection was constructed by ASEA between the mainland of Sweden and the island Gotland. Mercury arc valves were common in systems designed up to 1975, but since then, new HVDC systems have used only solid-state devices. On March 15, 1979, a thyristor based direct current connection between Cabora Bassa and Johannesburg (1410 km, 533 kV, 1920 MW) was turned on. Though the electronics were built in 1974 by AEG, and the BBC and Siemens were partners in the project, the late turn on was a result of the civil war.

After 1975 mercury valves in HVDC began to be replaced by solid state valves, and as of 2011 the Inter-Island HVDC (high voltage direct current) link between the North and South Islands of New Zealand is the last major operating mercury arc HVDC not yet replaced with a solid state system (this is being planned for 2012). From 1975 to 2000 arc valves were replaced by so-called line-commutated converters (LCC) using simple thyristor valves with gates activated by line voltage. According to Sood, the next 25 years may well be dominated by "force commutated converters" (i.e., thyristor or thyristor-like semiconductors with gates that are actively controlled by separate switching circuitry, for smoother switching response). This era has already begun with "capacitor commutated converters" (CCC), which are simple thyristor networks with gates operated from an external capacitative circuit, drawn from the AC line. Such externally-controlled thyristor-based circuits are expected to eventually be replaced by "self-commutated converters" based around more complex semiconductor switching devices. These "self-commutating converters" will finally largely supplant today's externally-commutated systems entirely, after self-commutating solid-state devices in the required power ranges become economically viable. Such self-commutated devices include the insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) and variant thyristors called integrated gate-commutated thyristors (IGCT), and gate turn-off thyristors (GTO). All these devices are used now in medium power high-voltage DC systems, and are capable of being scaled-up in power to the point that they (or other similar variants of multilayer solid-state high-power devices) will probably eventually replace all simple thyristor-based systems now in use, even for very highest power transmission DC applications. Since thyristor-based switches (i.e., solid-state rectifiers) were incorporated into them, hundreds of HVDC sea cables have been laid, and have worked with high reliability, usually better than 96% of the time.

Advantages of HVDC over AC transmission


The advantage of HVDC is the ability to transmit large amounts of power over long distances with lower capital costs and with lower losses than AC. Depending on voltage level and construction details, losses are quoted as about 3% per 1,000 km. High-voltage direct current transmission allows efficient use of energy sources, remote from load centers. In a number of applications HVDC is more effective than AC transmission. Examples include: Undersea cables, where high capacitance causes additional AC losses. (e.g., 250 km Baltic Cable between Sweden and Germany, the 600 km Nor Ned cable between Norway and the Netherlands, and 290 km Bass link between the Australian mainland and Tasmania) Endpoint-to-endpoint long-haul bulk power transmission without intermediate 'taps', for example, in remote areas Increasing the capacity of an existing power grid in situations where additional wires are difficult or expensive to install Power transmission and stabilization between unsynchronized AC distribution systems Connecting a remote generating plant to the distribution grid, for example Nelson River Bipole Stabilizing a predominantly AC power-grid, without increasing prospective short circuit current Reducing line cost. HVDC needs fewer conductors as there is no need to support multiple phases. Also, thinner conductors can be used since HVDC does not suffer from the skin effect Facilitate power transmission between different countries that use AC at differing voltages and/or frequencies Synchronize AC produced by renewable energy sources Long undersea / underground high voltage cables have a high electrical capacitance, since the conductors are surrounded by a relatively thin layer of insulation and a metal sheath while the extensive length of the cable multiplies the area between the conductors. The geometry is that of a long co-axial capacitor. Where alternating current is used for cable transmission, this capacitance appears in parallel with load. Additional current must flow in the cable to charge the cable capacitance, which generates additional losses in the conductors of the cable. Additionally, there is a dielectric loss component in the material of the cable insulation, which consumes power. However, when direct current is used, the cable capacitance is charged only when the cable is first energized or when the voltage is changed; there is no steady-state additional current

required. For a long AC undersea cable, the entire current-carrying capacity of the conductor could be used to supply the charging current alone. The cable capacitance issue limits the length and power carrying capacity of AC cables. DC cables have no such limitation, and are essentially bound by only Ohm's Law. Although some DC leakage current continues to flow through the dielectric insulators, this is very small compared to the cable rating and much less than with AC transmission cables. HVDC can carry more power per conductor because, for a given power rating, the constant voltage in a DC line is the same as the peak voltage in an AC line. The power delivered in an AC system is defined by the root mean square (RMS) of an AC voltage, but RMS is only about 71% of the peak voltage. The peak voltage of AC determines the actual insulation thickness and conductor spacing. Because DC operates at a constant maximum voltage, this allows existing transmission line corridors with equally sized conductors and insulation to carry more power into an area of high power consumption than AC, which can lower costs. Because HVDC allows power transmission between unsynchronized AC distribution systems, it can help increase system stability, by preventing cascading failures from propagating from one part of a wider power transmission grid to another. Changes in load that would cause portions of an AC network to become unsynchronized and separate would not similarly affect a DC link, and the power flow through the DC link would tend to stabilize the AC network. The magnitude and direction of power flow through a DC link can be directly commanded, and changed as needed to support the AC networks at either end of the DC link. This has caused many power system operators to contemplate wider use of HVDC technology for its stability benefits alone. Modern HVDC systems combine the good experience of the old installations with recently developed technologies and materials. The result is a very competitive, flexible and efficient way of transmitting electrical energy with a very low environmental impact. It is important to remark that an HVDC system not only transmit electrical power from one point to another, but it also has a lot of value added which should have been necessary to solve by another means in the case of using a conventional AC transmission. Some of these aspects are: No limits in transmitted distance. This is valid for both OH lines and sea or underground cables. Very fast control of power flow, which implies stability improvements, not only for the HVDC link but also for the surrounding AC system. Direction of power flow can be changed very quickly (bi-directionality). An HVDC link dont increase the short-circuit power in the connecting point. This means that it will not be necessary to change the circuit breakers in the existing network. HVDC can carry more power for a given size of conductor

The need for ROW (Right Of Way) is much smaller for HVDC than for HVAC, for the same transmitted power. The environmental impact is smaller with HVDC. VSC technology allows controlling active and reactive power independently without any needs for extra compensating equipment. VSC technology gives a good opportunity to alternative energy sources to be economically and technically efficient. HVDC transmissions have a high availability and reliability rate, shown by more than 30 years of operation.

HVDC in the new Electricity Industry The question is often asked as to when HVDC transmission should be chosen over an AC system. In the past, conventions were that HVDC was chosen when: Large amounts of power (>500 MW) needed to be transmitted over long distances(>500 km); Transmitting power under water; Interconnecting two AC networks in an asynchronous manner. HVDC systems remain the best economical and environmentally friendly option for the above conventional applications. However, three different dynamics - technology development, deregulation of electricity industry around the world, and a quantum leap in efforts to conserve the environment - are demanding a change in thinking that could make HVDC systems the preferred alternative to high voltage AC systems in many other situations as well. To elaborate: New technologies, such as the VSC based HVDC systems, and the new extruded polyethylene DC cables, have made it possible for HVDC to become economic at lower power levels (up to 200 MW) and over a transmission distance of just 60 km. Liberalization has brought other demands on the power infrastructure overall. Transmission is now a contracted service, and there is very little room for deviation from contracted technical and economic norms. HVDC provides much better control of the power link and is therefore a better way for providing contractual transmission services. Liberalization has brought on the phenomenon of trading to the electricity sector, which would mean bi-directional power transfers, depending on market conditions. HVDC systems enable the bi-directional power flows, which is not possible with AC systems (two parallel systems would be required).

In the past, when the transmission service was part of a government owned, vertically integrated utility, the land acquisition and obtaining rights-of-way was relatively easier, and very often was done under the principle of Eminent Domain of the State. With liberalization, transmission service provision is by and large in the domain of corporatized, sometimes privatized, entities. Land acquisition and/or obtaining rights-ofway are now a significant portion of the projects costs. Once these costs are included in their entirety in the economical analysis of HVDC versus AC alternatives, it would be seen that HVDC is much more economical in this regard, since it requires much less land/right-of-way for a given level of power. In environmentally sensitive areas, such as national parks and protected sanctuaries, the lower foot print of HVDC transmission systems becomes the only feasible way to build a power link. So how should power system planners, investors in power infrastructure (both public and private), and financiers of such infrastructure be guided with respect to choosing between an HVDC and a high voltage AC alternative? The answer is to let the market decide. In other words: the planners, investors and financiers should issue functional specifications for the transmission system to qualified contractors, as opposed to the practice of issuing technical specifications, which are often inflexible, and many times include older technologies and techniques) while inviting bids for a transmission system. The functional specifications could lay down the power capacity, distance, availability and reliability requirements; and last but not least, the environmental conditions. The bidders should be allowed to bid either an HVDC solution or an AC solution; and the best option chosen. It is quite conceivable that with changed circumstances in the electricity industry, the technological developments, and environmental considerations, HVDC would be the preferred alternative in many more transmission projects.

Disadvantages
The disadvantages of HVDC are in conversion, switching, control, availability and maintenance. HVDC is less reliable and has lower availability than AC systems, mainly due to the extra conversion equipment. Single pole systems have availability of about 98.5%, with about a third of the downtime unscheduled due to faults. Fault redundant bipolar systems provide high availability for 50% of the link capacity, but availability of the full capacity is about 97% to 98%. The required static inverters are expensive and have limited overload capacity. At smaller transmission distances the losses in the static inverters may be bigger than in an AC transmission line. The cost of the inverters may not be offset by reductions in line construction cost and lower line loss. With two exceptions, all former mercury rectifiers worldwide have been dismantled or replaced by thyristor units. Pole 1 of the HVDC scheme between the North and South Islands of New Zealand still uses mercury arc rectifiers, as does Pole 1 of the Vancouver Island link in Canada. Both are currently being replaced in New Zealand by a new thyristor pole and in Canada by a three-phase AC link. Efficient designs use Silicon-Controlled Rectifiers (SCR)s (the more common name for thyristors) fired in sequence at 60 Hz to produce a modified sine wave of AC current, similar to the inverter circuitry in modern battery-operated UPSs for computer and telecom use. In contrast to AC systems, realizing multiterminal systems is complex, as is expanding existing schemes to multiterminal systems. Controlling power flow in a multiterminal DC system requires good communication between all the terminals; power flow must be actively regulated by the inverter control system instead of the inherent impedance and phase angle properties of the transmission line. Multi-terminal lines are rare. One is in operation at the Hydro Qubec New England transmission from Radisson to Sandy Pond. Another example is the Sardiniamainland Italy link which was modified in 1989 to also provide power to the island of Corsica. High voltage DC circuit breakers are difficult to build because some mechanism must be included in the circuit breaker to force current to zero, otherwise arcing and contact wear would be too great to allow reliable switching. Operating a HVDC scheme requires many spare parts to be kept, often exclusively for one system as HVDC systems are less standardized than AC systems and technology changes faster.

Costs of high voltage DC transmission


Normally manufacturers such as Alstom, Siemens and ABB do not state specific cost information of a particular project since this is a commercial matter between the manufacturer and the client. Costs vary widely depending on the specifics of the project such as power rating, circuit length, overhead vs. underwater route, land costs, and AC network improvements required at either terminal. A detailed evaluation of DC vs. AC cost may be required where there is no clear technical advantage to DC alone and only economics drives the selection. However some practitioners have given out some information that can be reasonably well relied upon: For an 8 GW 40 km link laid under the English Channel, the following are approximate primary equipment costs for a 2000 MW 500 kV bipolar conventional HVDC link (exclude way-leaving, on-shore reinforcement works, consenting, engineering, insurance, etc.) Converter stations ~110M Subsea cable + installation ~1M/km So for an 8 GW capacity between England and France in four links, little is left over from 750M for the installed works. Add another 200300M for the other works depending on additional onshore works required. An April, 2010 announcement for a 2,000 MW line, 64 km, between Spain and France, is 700 million euros; this includes the cost of a tunnel through the Pyrenees.

Rectifying and inverting


Components Two of three thyristor valve stacks used for long distance transmission of power from Manitoba Hydro dams To assist the designers of transmission systems, the components that comprise the HVDC system, and the options available in these components, are presented and discussed. The three main elements of an HVDC system are: the converter station at the transmission and receiving ends, the transmission medium, and the electrodes. Most of the HVDC systems in operation today are based on Line-Commutated Converters. Early static systems used mercury arc rectifiers, which were unreliable. Two HVDC systems using mercury arc rectifiers are still in service Two of three thyristor valve stacks used for long distance transmission (As of 2008). The thyristor valve was first used in HVDC of power from Manitoba Hydro dams systems in the 1960s. The thyristor is a solidstate semiconductor device similar to the diode, but with an extra control terminal that is used to switch the device on at a particular instant during the AC cycle. The insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is now also used, forming a Voltage Sourced Converter, and offers simpler control, reduced harmonics and reduced valve cost. Because the voltages in HVDC systems, up to 800 kV in some cases, exceed the breakdown voltages of the semiconductor devices, HVDC converters are built using large numbers of semiconductors in series. The converter station: The converter stations at each end are replicas of each other and therefore consists of all the needed equipment for going from AC to DC or vice versa. The main component of a converter station is: Thyristor valves: The thyristor valves can be build-up in different ways depending on the application and manufacturer. However, the most common way of arranging the thyristor valves is in a twelve-pulse group with three quadruple valves. Each single thyristor valve consists of a certain amount of series connected thyristors with their auxiliary circuits. All communication between the control equipment at earth potential and each thyristor at high potential is done with fibre optics. VSC valves : The VSC converter consists of two level or multilevel converter, phase-reactors and AC filters. Each single valve in the converter bridge is built up with a certain number of

series- connected IGBTs together with their auxiliary electronics. VSC valves, control equipment and cooling equipment would be in enclosures (such as standard shipping containers) which make transport and installation very easy. All modern HVDC valves are water-cooled and air insulated. Transformers: The converter transformers adapt the AC voltage level to the DC voltage level and they contribute to the commutation reactance. Usually they are of the single phase three winding type, but depending on the transportation requirements and the rated power, they can be arranged in other ways AC Filters and Capacitor Banks: On the AC side of a 12-pulse HVDC converter, current harmonics of the order of 11, 13, 23, 25 and higher are generated. Filters are installed in order to limit the amount of harmonics to the level required by the network.. In the conversion process the converter consumes reactive power which is compensated in part by the filter banks and the rest by capacitor banks. In the case of the CCC the reactive power is compensated by the series capacitors installed in series between the converter valves and the converter transformer. The elimination of switched reactive power compensation equipment simplify the AC switchyard and minimise the number of circuit-breakers needed, which will reduce the area required for an HVDC station built with CCC. With VSC converters there is no need to compensate any reactive power consumed by the converter itself and the current harmonics on the AC side are related directly to the PWM frequency. Therefore the amount of filters in this type of converters is reduced dramatically compared with natural commutated converters. DC filters: HVDC converters create harmonics in all operational modes. Such harmonics can create disturbances in telecommunication systems. Therefore, specially designed DC filters are used in order to reduce the disturbances. Usually no filters are needed for pure cable transmissions as well as for the Back-to-Back HVDC stations. However, it is necessary to install DC filters if an OH line is used in part or all the transmission system The filters needed to take care of the harmonics generated on the DC end, are usually considerably smaller and less expensive than the filters on the AC side. The modern DC filters are the Active DC filters. In these filters the passive part is reduced to a minimum and modern power electronics is used to measure, invert and re-inject the harmonics, thus rendering the filtering very effective. Transmission medium For bulk power transmission over land, the most frequent transmission medium used is the overhead line. This overhead line is normally bipolar, i.e. two conductors with different polarity. HVDC cables are normally used for submarine transmission. The most common types of cables are the solid and the oil-filled ones. The solid type is in many cases the most economic one. Its insulation consists of paper tapes impregnated with a high viscosity oil. No length limitation

exists for this type and designs are today available for depths of about 1000 m. The self contained oil-filled cable is completely filled with a low viscosity oil and always works under pressure. The maximum length for this cable type seems to be around 60 km. The development of new power cable technologies has accelerated in recent years and today a new HVDC cable is available for HVDC underground or submarine power transmissions. This new HVDC cable is made of extruded polyethylene, and is used in VSC based HVDC systems. Design, Construction, Operation and Maintenance considerations In general, the basic parameters such as power to be transmitted, distance of transmission, voltage levels, temporary and continuous overload, status of the network on the receiving end, environmental requirements etc. are required to initiate a design of an HVDC system. For tendering purposes a conceptual design is done following a technical specification or in close collaboration between the manufacturer and the customer. The final design and specifications are in fact the result of the tendering and negotiations with the manufactures/suppliers. It is recommended that a turnkey approach be chosen to contract execution, which is the practice even in developed countries. In terms of construction, it can take from three years for thyristor-based large HVDC systems, to just one year for VSC based HVDC systems to go from contract date to commissioning. The following table showsthe experience for the different HVDC technologies: To the extent that the term operation denotes the continual activities that are aimed at keeping the systemavailability at designed levels, modern HVDC links can be operated remotely, in view of the semiconductor and microprocessor based control systems included. There are some existing installations in operation completely unmanned. Moreover, modern HVDC systems are designed to operate unmanned. This feature is particularly important in situations or countries where skilled people are few, and these few people can operate several HVDC links from one central location. Maintenance of HVDC systems is comparable to those of high voltage AC systems. The high voltage equipment in converter stations is comparable to the corresponding equipment in AC substations, and maintenance can be executed in the same way. Maintenance will focus on: AC and DC filters, smoothing reactors, wall bushings, valve-cooling equipment, thyristor valves. In all the above, adequate training and support is provided by the supplier during the installation, commissioning and initial operation period. Normal routine maintenance is recommended to be one week per year. The newer systems can even go for two years before requiring maintenance. In fact in a bipolar system, one pole at a time is stopped during the time required for the maintenance, and the other pole can normally

continue to operate and depending on the in-built overload capacity it can take a part of the load of the pole under maintenance. In addition, preventive maintenance shall be pursued so that the plants and equipment will achieve optimally balanced availability with regard to the costs of maintenance, operating disturbances and planned outages. As a guideline value, the aim shall be to achieve an availability of 98 % according to Cigr protocol 14-97. While HVDC systems may only need a few skilled staff for operation and maintenance, several factors influence the number of staff needed at a station. These factors are: local routines and regulations, working conditions, union requirements, safety regulations, and other local rules can separately or together affect the total number of personnel required for the type of installed equipment. Cost structure The cost of an HVDC transmission system depends on many factors, such as power capacity to be transmitted, type of transmission medium, environmental conditions and other safety, regulatory requirements etc. Even when these are available, the options available for optimal design (different commutation techniques, variety of filters, transformers etc.) render it is difficult to give a cost figure for an HVDC system. Nevertheless, a typical cost structure for the converter stations could be as follows: As a guidance, an example showing the price variation for an AC transmission compared with an HVDC transmission for 2000 MW is presented below.

Assumptions made in the price calculations: For the AC transmission a double circuit is assumed with a price per km of 250 kUSD/km (each), AC substations and series compensation (above 600 km) are estimated to 80 MUSD. For the HVDC transmission a bipolar OH line was assumed with a price per km of 250 kUSD/km, converter stations are estimated to 250 MUSD. It is strongly recommended to take contact with a manufacturer in order to get a first idea of costs and alternatives. The manufacturers should be able to give a budgetary price based on few data, as rated power, transmission distance, type of transmission, voltage level in the AC networks where the converters are going to be connected.

The choice of DC transmission voltage level has a direct impact on the total installation cost. At the design stage an optimisation is done finding out the optimum DC voltage from investment and losses point of view. The costs of losses are also very important - in the evaluation of losses the energy cost and the time- horizon for utilisation of the transmission have to be taken into account. Finally the depreciation period and desired rate of return (or discount rate) should be considered. Therefore, to estimate the costs of an HVDC system, it is recommended that life cycle cost analysis is undertaken. Two different comparisons are needed to highlight the cost comparison between high voltage AC and HVDC systems one is between thyristor based HVDC systems and a high voltage AC transmission system; and the other between a VSC based HVDC system; an AC system and a local generation source. Thyristor based HVDC system versus high voltage AC system: The investment costs for HVDC converter stations are higher than for high voltage AC substations. On the other hand, the costs of transmission medium (overhead lines and cables), land acquisition/right-of-way costs are lower in the HVDC case. Moreover, the operation and maintenance costs are lower in the HVDC case. Initial loss levels are higher in the HVDC system, but they do not vary with distance. In contrast, loss levels increase with distance in a high voltage AC system. The following picture shows the cost breakdown (shown with and without considering losses). The breakeven distance depends on several factors, as transmission medium (cable or OH line), different local aspects (permits, cost of local labour etc.). When comparing high voltage AC with HVDC transmission, it is important to compare a bipolar HVDC transmission to a double-circuit high voltage AC transmission, especially when availability and reliability is considered. VSC based HVDC system versus an AC system or a local generation source: VSC based HVDC systems cater to the small power applications (up to 200MW) and relatively shorter distances (hundred of km) segment of the power transmission spectrum. The graph below shows that, the VSC based HVDC system is the better alternative economically when compared to either an high voltage AC system or a generation source local to the load centre (e.g., diesel generator).

As a guidance, a price example for a 50 MW VSC transmission with land cable is presented below. However, the break-even distance and power transfer level criteria and the comparative cost informationshould be taken in the proper perspective, because of the following reasons: In the present (and future) industry environment of liberalised competitive markets and heightened efforts to conserve the environment. In such an environment, the alternative for a transmission system is an in-situ gas-fired combined cycle power plant, not necessarily an option between an AC transmission and a HVDC one. Second, the system prices for both AC and HVDC have varied widely even for a given level of power transfer. For example, several different levels of project costs have been incurred for a HVDC system with a power transfer capacity of 600 MW. What this shows therefore is that, in addition to the criteria mentioned above (power levels, distance, transmission medium, environmental conditions etc.), the market conditions at the time of the project is a critical factor, perhaps more so than the numerical comparisons between the costs of an AC or DC system. Third, technological developments have tended to push HVDC system costs downward, while the environmental considerations have resulted in pushing up the high voltage AC system costs. Therefore, for the purposes early stage feasibility analysis of transmission system type, it is perhaps better to consider HVDC and high voltage AC systems as equal cost alternatives. (Also see the last section on HVDC in Todays Electricity Industry). The low-voltage control circuits used to switch the thyristors on and off need to be isolated from the high voltages present on the transmission lines. This is usually done optically. In a hybrid control system, the low-voltage control electronics sends light pulses along optical fibres to thehigh-side control electronics. Another system, called direct light triggering, dispenses with the high-side electronics, instead using light pulses from the control electronics to switch lighttriggered thyristors (LTTs). A complete switching element is commonly referred to as a valve, irrespective of its construction.

Rectifying and inverting systems Rectification and inversion use essentially the same machinery. Many substations (Converter Stations) are set up in such a way that they can act as both rectifiers and inverters. At the AC end a set of transformers, often three physically separated single-phase transformers, isolate the station from the AC supply, to provide a local earth, and to ensure the correct eventual DC voltage. The output of these transformers is then connected to a bridge rectifier formed by a number of valves. The basic configuration uses six valves, connecting each of the three phases to each of the two DC rails. However, with a phase change only every sixty degrees, considerable harmonics remain on the DC rails. An enhancement of this configuration uses 12 valves (often known as a twelve-pulse system). The AC is split into two separate three phase supplies before transformation. One of the sets of supplies is then configured to have a star (wye) secondary, the other a delta secondary, establishing a thirty degree phase difference between the two sets of three phases. With twelve valves connecting each of the two sets of three phases to the two DC rails, there is a phase change every 30 degrees, and harmonics are considerably reduced. In addition to the conversion transformers and valve-sets, various passive resistive and reactive components help filter harmonics out of the DC rails.

Configurations
Monopole and earth return Block diagram of a monopole system with earth return In a common configuration, called monopole, one of the terminals of the rectifier is connected to earth ground. The Block diagram of a monopole system with earth return other terminal, at a potential high above or below ground, is connected to a transmission line. The earthed terminal may be connected to the corresponding connection at the inverting station by means of a second conductor. If no metallic conductor is installed, current flows in the earth between the earth electrodes at the two stations. Therefore it is a type of single wire earth return. The issues surrounding earthreturn current include: Electrochemical corrosion of long buried metal objects such as pipelines Underwater earth-return electrodes in seawater may produce chlorine or otherwise affect water chemistry. An unbalanced current path may result in a net magnetic field, which can affect magnetic navigational compasses for ships passing over an underwater cable. These effects can be eliminated with installation of a metallic return conductor between the two ends of the monopolar transmission line. Since one terminal of the converters is connected to earth, the return conductor need not be insulated for the full transmission voltage which makes it less costly than the high-voltage conductor. Use of a metallic return conductor is decided based on economic, technical and environmental factors. Modern monopolar systems for pure overhead lines carry typically 1,500 MW. If underground or underwater cables are used, the typical value is 600 MW. Most monopolar systems are designed for future bipolar expansion. Transmission line towers may be designed to carry two conductors, even if only one is used initially for the monopole transmission system. The second conductor is either unused, used as electrode line or connected in parallel with the other (as in case of Baltic-Cable).

Bipolar In bipolar transmission a pair of conductors is used, each at a high potential with respect to ground, in opposite polarity. Since these conductors must be insulated for the full voltage, transmission line cost is higher than a monopole with a return conductor. However, there are a number of advantages to bipolar transmission which can make it the attractive option.

Block diagram of a bipolar system that also has an earth return

Under normal load, negligible earth-current flows, as in the case of monopolar transmission with a metallic earth-return. This reduces earth return loss and environmental effects. When a fault develops in a line, with earth return electrodes installed at each end of the line, approximately half the rated power can continue to flow using the earth as a return path, operating in monopolar mode. Since for a given total power rating each conductor of a bipolar line carries only half the current of monopolar lines, the cost of the second conductor is reduced compared to a monopolar line of the same rating. In very adverse terrain, the second conductor may be carried on an independent set of transmission towers, so that some power may continue to be transmitted even if one line is damaged. A bipolar system may also be installed with a metallic earth return conductor. Bipolar systems may carry as much as 3,200 MW at voltages of +/600 kV. Submarine cable installations initially commissioned as a monopole may be upgraded with additional cables and operated as a bipole.. A bipolar scheme can be implemented so that the polarity of one or both poles can be changed. This allows the operation as two parallel monopoles. If one conductor

A block diagram of a bipolar HVDC transmission system, between two stations designated A and B

fails, transmission can still continue at reduced capacity. Losses may increase if ground electrodes and lines are not designed for the extra current in this mode. To reduce losses in this case, intermediate switching stations may be installed, at which line segments can be switched off or parallelized. This was done at IngaShaba HVDC. Back to back A back-to-back station (or B2B for short) is a plant in which both static inverters and rectifiers are in the same area, usually in the same building. The length of the direct current line is kept as short as possible. HVDC back-to-back stations are used for Coupling of electricity mains of different frequency (as in Japan; and the GCC interconnection between UAE [50 Hz] and Saudi Arabia [60 Hz] under construction in 20092011) Coupling two networks of the same nominal frequency but no fixed phase relationship (as until 1995/96 in Etzenricht, Drnrohr,Vienna, and the Vyborg HVDC scheme). Different frequency and phase number (for example, as a replacement for traction current converter plants) The DC voltage in the intermediate circuit can be selected freely at HVDC back-to-back stations because of the short conductor length. The DC voltage is as low as possible, in order to build a small valve hall and to avoid series connections of valves. For this reason at HVDC back-to-back stations valves with the highest available current rating are used. Systems with transmission lines The most common configuration of an HVDC link is two inverter/rectifier stations connected by an overhead power line. This is also a configuration commonly used in connecting unsynchronised grids, in long-haul power transmission, and in undersea cables. Multi-terminal HVDC links, connecting more than two points, are rare. The configuration of multiple terminals can be series, parallel, or hybrid (a mixture of series and parallel). Parallel configuration tends to be used for large capacity stations, and series for lower capacity stations. An example is the 2,000 MW Quebec - New England Transmission system opened in 1992, which is currently the largest multi-terminal HVDC system in the world. Tripole: current-modulating control A scheme patented in 2004 (Current modulation of direct current transmission lines) is intended for conversion of existing AC transmission lines to HVDC. Two of the three circuit conductors are operated as a bipole. The third conductor is used as a parallel monopole, equipped with reversing valves (or parallel valves connected in reverse polarity). The parallel monopole periodically relieves current from one pole or the other, switching polarity over a span of several minutes. The bipole conductors would be loaded to either 1.37 or 0.37 of their thermal limit, with

the parallel monopole always carrying +/- 1 times its thermal limit current. The combined RMS heating effect is as if each of the conductors is always carrying 1.0 of its rated current. This allows heavier currents to be carried by the bipole conductors, and full use of the installed third conductor for energy transmission. High currents can be circulated through the line conductors even when load demand is low, for removal of ice. As of 2005, no tri-pole conversions are in operation, although a transmission line in India has been converted to bipole HVDC. Cross-Skagerrak consists of 3 poles, from which 2 are switched in parallel and the third uses an opposite polarity with a higher transmission voltage. A similar arrangement is HVDC InterIsland, but it consists of 2 parallel-switched inverters feeding in the same pole and a third one with opposite polarity and higher operation voltage.

Corona discharge
Corona discharge is the creation of ions in a fluid (such as air) by the presence of a strong electric field. Electrons are torn from neutral air, and either the positive ions or the electrons are attracted to the conductor, while the charged particles drift. This effect can cause considerable power loss, create audible and radio-frequency interference, generate toxic compounds such as oxides of nitrogen and ozone, and bring forth arcing. Both AC and DC transmission lines can generate coronas, in the former case in the form of oscillating particles, in the latter a constant wind. Due to the space charge formed around the conductors, an HVDC system may have about half the loss per unit length of a high voltage AC system carrying the same amount of power. With monopolar transmission the choice of polarity of the energized conductor leads to a degree of control over the corona discharge. In particular, the polarity of the ions emitted can be controlled, which may have an environmental impact on particulate condensation. (particles of different polarities have a different mean-free path.) Negative coronas generate considerably more ozone than positive coronas, and generate it further downwind of the power line, creating the potential for health effects. The use of a positive voltage will reduce the ozone impacts of monopole HVDC power lines.

Applications
Overview The controllability of current-flow through HVDC rectifiers and inverters, their application in connecting unsynchronized networks, and their applications in efficient submarine cables mean that HVDC cables are often used at national boundaries for the exchange of power (in North America, HVDC connections divide much of Canada and the United States into several electrical regions that cross national borders, although the purpose of these connections is still to connect unsynchronized AC grids to each other). Offshore windfarms also require undersea cables, and their turbines are unsynchronized. In very long-distance connections between just two points, for example around the remote communities of Siberia, Canada, and the Scandinavian North, the decreased line-costs of HVDC also makes it the usual choice. Other applications have been noted throughout this article.

AC network interconnections AC transmission lines can interconnect only synchronized AC networks that oscillate at the same frequency and in phase. Many areas that wish to share power have unsynchronized networks. The power grids of the UK, Northern Europe and continental Europe are not united into a single synchronized network. Japan has 50 Hz and 60 Hz networks. Continental North America, while operating at 60 Hz throughout, is divided into regions which are unsynchronised: East, West, Texas, Quebec, and Alaska. Brazil and Paraguay, which share the enormous Itaipu Dam hydroelectric plant, operate on 60 Hz and 50 Hz respectively. However, HVDC systems make it possible to interconnect unsynchronized AC networks, and also add the possibility of controlling AC voltage and reactive power flow. A generator connected to a long AC transmission line may become unstable and fall out of synchronization with a distant AC power system. An HVDC transmission link may make it economically feasible to use remote generation sites. Wind farms located off-shore may use HVDC systems to collect power from multiple unsynchronized generators for transmission to the shore by an underwater cable. In general, however, an HVDC power line will interconnect two AC regions of the powerdistribution grid. Machinery to convert between AC and DC power adds a considerable cost in power transmission. The conversion from AC to DC is known as rectification, and from DC to AC as inversion. Above a certain break-even distance (about 50 km for submarine cables, and perhaps 600800 km for overhead cables), the lower cost of the HVDC electrical conductors outweighs the cost of the electronics. The conversion electronics also present an opportunity to effectively manage the power grid by means of controlling the magnitude and direction of power flow. An additional advantage of the existence of HVDC links, therefore, is potential increased stability in the transmission grid.

Renewable electricity superhighways Two HVDC lines cross near Wing, North Dakota. A number of studies have highlighted the potential benefits of very wide area super grids based on HVDC since they can mitigate the effects of intermittency by averaging and smoothing the outputs of large numbers of geographically dispersed wind farms or solar farms. Czisch's study concludes that a grid covering the fringes of Europe could bring 100% renewable power Two HVDC lines cross near Wing, (70% wind, 30% biomass) at close to today's prices. North Dakota There has been debate over the technical feasibility of this proposal and the political risks involved in energy transmission across a large number of international borders. The construction of such green power superhighways is advocated in a white paper that was released by the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association In January 2009, the European Commission proposed 300 million to subsidize the development of HVDC links between Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, as part of a wider 1.2 billion package supporting links to offshore wind farms and cross-border interconnectors throughout Europe. Meanwhile the recently founded Union of the Mediterranean has embraced a Mediterranean Solar Plan to import large amounts of concentrating solar power into Europe from North Africa and the Middle East.

Voltage Sourced Converters (VSC) The development of insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) and gate turn-off thyristors (GTO) has made smaller HVDC systems economical. These may be installed in existing AC grids for their role in stabilizing power flow without the additional short-circuit current that would be produced by an additional AC transmission line. The manufacturer ABB calls this concept "HVDC Light", while Siemens calls a similar concept "HVDC PLUS" (Power Link Universal System). They have extended the use of HVDC down to blocks as small as a few tens of megawatts and lines as short as a few score kilometres of overhead line. There are several different variants of Voltage-Sourced Converter (VSC) technology: most "HVDC Light" installations use pulse width modulation but the most recent installations, along with "HVDC PLUS", are based on multilevel switching. The latter is a promising concept as it allows reducing the filtering efforts to a minimum. At the moment, the line filters of typical converter stations cover nearly half of the area of the whole station.

Details of Selected HVDC Applications Itaipu - the world's largest HVDC transmission The Itaipu HVDC Transmission Project in Brazil, owned by Furnas Centrais Eltricas S.A. in Rio de Janeiro (an Eltrobras company), is by far the most impressive HVDC transmission in the world. It has a total rated power of 6300 MW and a world record voltage of 600 kV DC. The Itaipu HVDC transmission consists of two bipolar DC transmission lines bringing power generated at 50 Hz in the 12600 MW Itaipu hydropower plant, owned by Itaipu Binacional, to the 60 Hz network in So Paulo, in the industrial centre of Brazil. Power transmission started on bipole 1 in October 1984 with 300 kV and in July 1985 with 600 kV, and on bipole 2 in July 1987. The converter stations were commissioned stepwise in order to match the generating capacity built up at the Itaipu hydropower plant. HVDC was chosen basically for two reasons: partly to be able to supply power from the 50 Hz generators to the 60 Hz system, and partly because an HVDC link was economically preferable for the long distance involved. The converter stations Foz do Iguau and Ibiuna represent a considerable step forward in HVDC technology. The two stations are unique in their combination of size and advanced technology.

Leyte - Luzon HVDC Power Transmission Project, Philipines National Power Corporation has constructed a 440 MW, 350 kV monopolar HVDC link to transfer power from the geothermal power plant on the island of Leyte, to the southern part of the main island of Luzon to feed the existing AC grid in the Manila region. The HVDC interconnection will be beneficial both to industry and the inhabitants of the Manila area, not only through the added power influx, but also through the inherent stabilizing effect of an HVDC link on the AC network. The use of geothermal power contributes significantly to environmental improvements on a national as well as a global scale. The HVDC Link has been in commercial operation since August 10, 1998.

Rihand-Delhi HVDC Transmission, India National Thermal Power Corporation Limited built a 3000 MW coal-based thermal power station in the Sonebhadra District of Uttar Pradesh State. Part of the power from the Rihand complex is carried by the Rihand-Delhi HVDC bipolar transmission link, which has a rated capacity of 1500 MW at 500 kV DC. Some of the power is transmitted via the existing parallel 400 kV AC lines. The basic aim of the HVDC link is to transmit the Rihand power efficiently to the Northern Region, meeting urgent needs in the area. There were several reasons why choosing HVDC instead of 400 kV AC. The most important ones were better economics, halved right-of-way requirements, lower transmission losses and better stability and controllability. The Rihand-Delhi HVDC transmission is the first commercial long-distance HVDC link in India.

Garabi Interconnection of Argentina and Brazil In South America, de-regulation of the electrical sector has made good progress in the last couple of years. On May 5th 1998 the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, through Eletrobrs, Furnas and Gerasul in agreement with the Argentine government, signed a 20-year contract for importing of 1000 MW firm capacity with associated energy to Brazil from the wholesale energy market, MEM, in Argentina. The contract was signed with CIEN, "Companhia de Interconexao Energtica" who will be responsible for importing. The CIEN group is led by the two ENDESA companies from Spain and Chile, respectively. On May 18 the CIEN group placed an order for a turnkey package for the complete power transmission system, including engineering, construction, operation and maintenance. The transmission system comprises 490 km of 500 kV AC overhead lines between the two substations of Rincn de Santa Maria in northern Argentina and It in southern Brazil. A 1100 MW HVDC Back-to-Back Converter Station will be placed at Garabi, in Brazil, close to the Argentine border. Brazil has 60 Hz frequency and Argentina would be supplying at 50 Hz. Therefore the asynchronous nature of the interconnection. This interconnection is scheduled to start commercial operation at the beginning of year 2000. The cross- border transmission system will permit both countries to utilise electricity resources more efficiently and cost-effectively. The energy purchased by Eletrobrs will be commercialised in the South/Southeast/Central-West interconnected systems. It will contribute to increase the delivery of energy and the reliability in these systems. It will also enable trade in secondary energy between the two countries.

Gotland - Wind Power Evacuation In recent years the push for renewable forms of energy has brought wind power farms into focus on the Swedish island of Gotland, in the Baltic sea. Today the island needs additional transmission capacity and a better means of maintaining good power quality because wind power capacity has been greatly expanded on the southern tip of the island. But the main load centre is the city of Visby. Moreover, sensitive wildlife environments and the fact that many holiday resorts are located on Gotland demand low visual impact on the surroundings. Therefore, the VSCs in combination with underground DC cables was the obvious choice for this project. Accordingly, in 1997, GEAB the local electric supplier, agreed to install the worlds first VSC based HVDC transmission system on Gotland. GEAB is a subsidiary to Vatenfall AB, which has financed the project together with the Swedish National Energy Administration. Rated at 50 MW, the transmission has linked the wind power park on the southern tip of Gotland (Ns) to the city of Visby (Bcks), some 70 km away. It will run in parallel with the existing AC connection.

Direct Link Transnergie Australia, a subsidiary of Hydro Quebec, and the New South Wales distributor NorthPower, awarded the 21 of December 1998 the supply of the equipment for the Directlink interconnection. Directlink will employ VSC and DC cables to connect the Queensland and New South Wales electricity grids between Terranora and Mullumbimby, a distance of 65 km. The development is to be fast tracked to enable the interconnection to be in service by June 2000. Directlink will comprise an underground cable along its entire route, obviating the need for overhead transmission and minimising the impact on the environment. It will also follow the existing rights-of-way with no land resumption involved. The entrepreneurial interconnection will be totally funded by its users. Consistent with this approach, the ultimate size of the interconnection will be approximately 180 MVA - sufficient power to supply the energy needs of 100,000 homes.