ABB, the power and automation technology group, announced that it has developed the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC). The hybrid breaker combines ultrafast mechanical actuators with IGBT power electronics, and will be capable of interrupting power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within 5 milliseconds.
The breakthrough removes a 100-year-old barrier to the development of DC transmission grids, which can 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, according to ABB. ABB is in discussions with power utilities to identify pilot projects for the new development.
ABB has written a new chapter in the history of electrical engineering. 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.—Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB
ABB pioneered HVDC nearly 60 years ago and continues to be a technology driver and market leader with many innovations and developments. With more than 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.