ABB modernizes the New Zealand HVDC link between the islands

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  ABB modernizes the New Zealand HVDC link

5. July 2018 – ABB has been awarded a contract by Transpower New Zealand Ltd to modernize its high voltage direct current (HVDC) link, which covers the transmission grids of the North and South Islands. The connection is an element of the transmission network of the country and is used as an energy balancing system between the two islands. The ABB Ability MACH Control System, which acts as the brain or nerve center of the connection, will be a key component of the upgrade.

The North Island is home to more than three times the population of the South Island, which in addition to its picturesque landscape also offers large amounts of hydroelectric power. As a result, the demand for electricity in the North Island is much higher and depends on the energy generated in the South Island. The more than 600-kilometer north-south HVDC link enables efficient transmission of clean power to areas of high demand. The connection also plays an important role in the New Zealand electricity market by facilitating electricity trading between the two islands.

ABB is historically involved in the connection. The first link to New Zealand was commissioned in 1965 by ABB (formerly ASEA) as one of the world's first HVDC systems. Originally, it was a bipolar 600 megawatt (MW) line with mercury vapor valves until the original plant hit a single pole in 1992. A new thyristor pole was commissioned by ABB and the capacity increased to 1040 MW. The first plant was decommissioned in 2012 after 47 years of operation

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The scope of the project includes a valve adaptation of Pol 2 consisting of capacitors, fiber optic cables and valve control units based on the latest ABB AbilityTM MACH control system. The upgrade, which will be completed by 2020, will be conducted to minimize the impact on the grid and electricity market.

ABB pioneered HVDC technology 60 years ago, and about 120 HVDC projects have installed capacity of more than 130,000 MW, which is about half the installed base worldwide.

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