What does it do?
HVDC transmits great amounts of electrical power over long distances.
Compared to alternating current, the direct current system is less expensive
and loses less energy. HVDC can be transmitted through cables both underground
How does it work?
HVDC transmission utilizes a converter station at either end of the
system. A mercury arc valve is used widely for the conversion of AC
and DC current. The valve at the beginning of the system converts alternating
current to HVDC, the HVDC travels to the next location through a cable,
and the valve at the end of the system converts the HVDC back to alternating
How will it be used in
HVDC is being considered globally for renewable energy efforts. Since
HVDC allows for more power to travel long distances with fewer lines
and reduced losses, clean energy can efficiently travel to distant locations.
Due to the large amounts of hydropower produced in Quebec, HVDC is being
utilized in a transmission line linking Quebec to New York City.
Oskar Von Miller, engineering
pioneer and founder of the Deutsches Museum
The first successful HVDC
experimental long distance line (37 miles) was made at Munich, Germany
in 1882 by Oskar Von Miller and fellow engineers. These
same pioneers moved on to work on AC power the next year and did not
do much in the HVDC field after that. Miller and his European based
associates have been forgotten by history despite having fathered AC
power before Tesla or American based engineers got involved.
Later Work, US and Europe:
Thomas Edison and fellow
engineers worked on HVDC as part of a plan to make a standard DC "grid".
AC power quickly proved to be easier to work with for long distance
Albert Hull (General Electric)
Albert Hull (GE) developed
the thyratron, and used it on an experimental HVDC line near
Mechanicville, NY in 1936. Meanwhile
in Nazi Germany engineers were making great advances in the field as
After the war companies like
ASEA (today ABB) and Siemens were ahead in development and they developed
the first HVDC lines to cross waterways like that between Sweden and
Denmark. There was more of a market for HVDC in Europe and Japan since
HVDC could deliver power under long waterways when AC could not. ASEA
had also employed some of the original German HVDC pioneers after the
war, giving them an advantage over competition. General Electric also
was involved in making HVDC systems but exited the business in the 1980s.
US utility companies were
and are resistant to HVDC despite the advantage to the customers. The
localized power providers do not want cheap energy coming in from outside
their region. In New York State unions of the local power production
facility workers fight HVDC because it would mean lower energy prices
and local producers bottom line would be affected. Despite this the
US still has many HVDC lines and is installing more as time goes on.
ASEA had developed and implemented
solid state switching in 1962. This was the future of HVDC. Today HVDC
systems are highly advanced, safe, and have efficient solid state switching.
Written by Breanna Day and M. Whelan Volunteer at the Edison Tech Center
and celebrate engineering past, present, and future!
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