ABB hails HVDC breakthrough

Power technology giant ABB has successfully tested a ultra-high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable system that will more than double the transmission capacity of long-distance underwater transmission lines.

The breakthrough 525kV cable represents a 64% boost over the conventional 320kV technology, increasing power capacity to about 2.6GW from 1GW and extending the reach of lines to 1,500km from less than 1,000km with transmission losses of under 5%.

The new HVDC cable is designed to be deployed in subsea and underground applications, making it well suited for efficient power delivery through densely populated or environmentally sensitive areas, as well as for coastal and offshore projects.

“This major technology breakthrough will change the feasibility of renewable energy projects and play a defining role in using underground and subsea high voltage cables to integrate renewables over long distances,” said ABB chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer.

ABB says the new cable technology offers solutions for countries and utilities seeking "to enable their electricity transmission systems to integrate more renewable energy being generated by distant solar and wind installations".

The innovative 525kV system consists of cables using a new DC cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) insulation material, developed with Borealis, as well as termination and joints manufactured by ABB.