A green power corridor

FACTS Series compensation

The Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project brings renewable energy from generation sites in the Valley to San Diego.

In the far southeastern corner of California on the border of Arizona and Mexico lies the arid Imperial Valley. Irrigation and the Colorado River have made it some of California`s most productive farmland, but this desert region is now also a hotbed of renewable energy projects.

It`s partly driven by California’s mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by the end of 2020, but also by the Valley’s excellent solar, geothermal and wind resources, its proximity to large population centers on the coast, and large tracts of otherwise unusable desert land.

The latest installation is the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project, owned and operated by San Diego Gas and Electric, and built to carry renewable energy from generation sites in the Valley to San Diego (pop 1.3 million), 190 km away.

The line adds about1,000 megawatts (MW) of transmission capacity to Southern California`s power hungry electric grid, and will help maintain grid reliability in the most populous U.S. state. California`s aggressive renewable energy goals will require transmission lines capable of moving renewable energy from remote generation sites to urban centers where it is needed.

But even with the Sunrise Powerlink, solar and wind generation is more volatile than power generated by conventional means. This also affects power quality and calls for special technology to help capture and transmit renewable energy.

This technology includes the ABB Series Capacitor installed in the new 500 kV Suncrest substation, a key component of the Sunrise Powerlink. Series Capacitors improve power transmission capacity and preserve voltage stability of transmission lines, ensuring they can deliver maximum amounts of stable, usable power to users, particularly through bulk transmission corridors – another ABB specialty.

Since the Imperial Valley is a seismically active area, an ABB patented mechanical spring damper mechanism is incorporated in the SC platform design, and the equipment meets the IEEE`s (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) High Seismic Qualification level Standard 693.

Several utility-scale renewable energy projects are being built along the Sunrise Powerlink route, including  a solar photovoltaic project under construction by Tenaska Solar Ventures and the Pattern Ocotillo Express Wind project, which when completed will make the Sunrise Powerlink a truly green transmission corridor, a project ABB is proud to be part of.


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About the author

Rolf Grunbaum

I joined ASEA a number of years ago and now work for ABB's FACTS business, where I am senior marketing manager. I also a member of Cigré, IEEE, and the author of numerous papers.
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