HVDC: A true game changer

HVDC made the electrical engineering world sit up and think differently about how electricity is best transmitted

Sixty years ago, ABB pioneered commercial high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology, a super-efficient way of transmitting power over very long distances with minimal losses.

How significant was this?

In 1954 ABB launched the first commercial HVDC link in the world, between the mainland of Sweden and the island of Gotland. This development made the electrical engineering world sit up and think differently about how electricity is best transmitted.

Since that 60-mile-long subsea link beneath the frigid waters of the Baltic Sea was completed, HVDC technology has been quietly and efficiently delivering electricity around the world.

More recently, big ticket HVDC projects in rapidly industrializing places such as China, Brazil and India have highlighted the demand for power to be transmitted efficiently from natural sources over vast, often remote, distances to energy-hungry urban consumers. A good example is the new electricity “superhighway” between Xiangjiaba and Shanghai, carrying 6,400 megawatts of electricity over more than 2,000kms to supply 31 million people, which has been lauded among the biggest leaps in transmission capacity and efficiency in 20 years. National and regional power grids have also been connected in the Americas, parts of Africa and Australia and in Europe: the 580 kilometer-long NordNed link is the longest subsea high-voltage cable in the world.

And more is on the way, ABB underpinned its position as the market and technology leader with its recent breakthrough with the hybrid HVDC circuit breaker – a solution for a 100-year-old dilemma which promises to pave the way for an interconnected DC grid.

People may not know how their power is generated and may not spare a thought for where it came from. What they do care about, and even expect, is reliable electricity sourced and delivered with consideration to the environment. And as it celebrates its 60th birthday this is something HVDC, and ABB, can be proud to deliver. 

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About the author

Ilona Braverman

I am the Newsroom Manager with the corporate communications team. Prior to moving to Zurich, I spent over a decade writing, producing, marketing and production coordinating for Fox News in New York City. When I am not working, or enjoying all of the beautiful cities around me, I am busy dancing, cooking or probably making everyone around me howl with laughter.
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