The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has jointly honored ABB and Swedish power company Vattenfall for pioneering the world’s first commercial HVDC transmission link in 1954.
Considered to be a breakthrough in electrical engineering, ABB introduced a new way of transmitting electricity across long distances with minimum losses – High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC).
Needless to say, the Gotland link in Sweden was the first of its kind in the world. This pioneering landmark will now be a part of the prestigious IEEE Milestones hall of fame, which recognizes significant technical achievements in the world of electrical engineering.
Previous IEEE Milestone recognitions include technological innovations such as the invention of the light bulb, the CD player and the birth of the internet.
In 1950s Sweden, electricity consumption was growing rapidly but the country’s major hydropower reserves in the north were more than a thousand kilometers away from the major load centers in the south. This meant that areas like Gotland – an island in southern Sweden – had to produce its own electricity at twice the cost of the mainland.
This inspired the development of an efficient, reliable and economical transmission system to transport electricity over long distances and was manifested in the first commercial HVDC transmission link that enabled power to flow through a 96 kilometer subsea cable between Västervik, on the Swedish mainland, and Ygne, a town located on the island of Gotland.
When first installed, this HVDC link had a capacity of 20 megawatts (MW) and operated at a voltage of 100 kilovolts (kV). It has been progressively upgraded by ABB with the evolution of HVDC technology.
Today the Gotland Link has a rated voltage of 150 kV and the capacity to transmit 320 MW of power, providing electricity to meet the needs of the 60,000 residents of Gotland.
Some of the world’s biggest cities, including Los Angeles, São Paulo, Shanghai, and Delhi, rely on HVDC transmission links to deliver large amounts of electricity, often from renewable energy sources located thousands of kilometers away.
HVDC links are also being increasingly deployed as interconnectors between regions and countries enabling the optimum use of renewables, balancing of loads and trading of electricity. The technology is also widely used to integrate electricity from offshore wind farms and feed renewable power into mainland grids.
Image and content: ABB