Longest transmission link delivers renewable power

Fri, 2014-09-05 06:00 -- SCC Staff

Council Associate Partner ABB has commissioned the converter stations to the 3,150 megawatt Rio Madeira High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) link in Brazil. At approximately 2,400 kilometers, the power connection is the longest transmission link in the world, according to ABB.

Stretching nearly all the way across Brazil, the link will deliver electricity from two hydropower plants in the northwest of the country to São Paulo, the country's main economic center.  São Paulo, with nearly 12 million residents, is the largest city in the Americas and ranks as the 11th largest city in the world.

“This HVDC link will help integrate remotely located renewable energy and transmit clean electricity, reliably and efficiently across this massive distance with minimum losses, to millions of consumers,” said Claudio Facchin, head of ABB’s Power Systems business.

One of the challenges in building transmission lines is that they’re notoriously leaky. And the longer the line, the less electricity reaches its final destination. For example, within the state of California, one study found the amount of energy lost in the transmission process was equivalent to 7% of all the energy used in the state – a loss that’s worth about $2.4 billion.

To address that challenge, Brazil’s new line uses HVDC to transmit energy more efficiently than more typical Alternating Current (AC) lines. ABB, which pioneered HVDC technology 60 years ago, built the transformers that turn the AC power at the dams into HVDC energy for the long distance trip, and then back to AC at the other end for use in the city’s electrical grid.

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