ABB wins U.S. order to upgrade HVDC power transmission link

Power and automation technology firm ABB won an order worth around $130 million from electric cooperative Great River Energy to upgrade an existing high-voltage direct current (HVDC) connection in the U.S.

The ± 400 kV HVDC transmission system provides a vital link for transferring 1,000 MW of electricity between Underwood, North Dakota and Buffalo, Minnesota, a distance of 434 miles. The order was booked in the fourth quarter of 2015.

As part of the project scope, ABB will undertake the upgrade and life extension of the converter valves, valve cooling systems, control and protection systems, and other related equipment at the converter stations.

In addition to modernizing the HVDC system, the upgrade will also help improve grid reliability and efficiency. ABB has successfully carried out similar HVDC upgrades across the U.S. in recent years.

The current HVDC system was originally commissioned by ABB in 1978 and has provided over 99 percent availability during its operational lifetime. In 2002, ABB upgraded the control system to its advanced technology, fully digital MACH system.

“The upgrade will extend life and greatly enhance reliability of this important transmission link, thereby helping to secure power supply for consumers in the region” said Claudio Facchin, President of ABB’s Power Grids division. “The focus on service and lifetime support is a key element of ABB’s Next Level strategy.”

“Maintaining Great River Energy’s high reliability standards for this vital system is not only critical for delivering power in the short term, but also because it will continue to provide a corridor for delivering energy from North Dakota in the future,” said Greg Schutte, Great River Energy’s Project Leader.

ABB pioneered HVDC technology more than 60 years ago and has been awarded over 110 HVDC projects, representing a total installed capacity of more than 120,000 MW and accounting for around half the global installed base. ABB remains at the forefront of HVDC innovation and is positioned in the power sector with in-house manufacturing capability for all key components of HVDC systems.

Great River Energy is a power generation and transmission cooperative in Minnesota. It is the state’s second largest electric utility, based on generating capacity, and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the U.S. in terms of assets. It distributes electricity to about 660,000 homes, businesses and farms.

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