A circuit breaker for high voltage direct current combines fast mechanics with power electronics, and will be capable of interrupting power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within five milliseconds — 1/30th of a human-eye blink. The breakthrough removes a 100-year-old barrier to the development of direct current transmission grids, which will 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. ABB is in discussions with power utilities to identify pilot projects for the new development.
The Hybrid HVDC breaker development has been a research project for ABB, which invests over $1 billion annually in R&D activities. HVDC technology is needed to facilitate several long distance transmission requirements such as the transfer of power from hydropower plants, the integration of offshore wind power, development of visionary solar projects, and the interconnection of different power networks.
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