HVDC Reaches Critical Mass

April 1, 2012
Over the past 10 years, the editors at Transmission & Distribution World have found that coverage of technical issues sometimes requires a critical mass

Over the past 10 years, the editors at Transmission & Distribution World have found that coverage of technical issues sometimes requires a “critical mass” of information and insights to kick-start engineers and engineering managers to grasp the entirety of the topic and, only then, to take a giant leap forward.

One of the best ways we've found to do this is to produce comprehensive supplements on these critical topics. Last year, for example, we produced our Big Solar, Big Wind supplement, in which we shared with utilities how worldwide renewables initiatives require massive investment in T&D infrastructure.

This effort required us to muse what our future grids will look like if they are reshaped to handle these significant yet intermittent resources. Then, after this supplement came out, we experienced the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, combined with unremitting societal pressure against greenhouse-emitting coal-fired plants, making it increasingly clear we need a bulk power system with more flexibility and more capacity than ever before.

Our technical writer (and former IEEE T&D committee chairman) Gene Wolf and I reached out to our peers to see what they thought the power system of the future might look like. Gene had been the engineer of record for an HVDC back-to-back intertie when he worked at Public Service Company of New Mexico, so naturally, we took a long hard look at HVDC.

As I am sure you are aware, HVDC is finding increasing uses both overhead and underground, but it is not limited today to interties or point-to-point links. In Europe, for example, efforts are underway to build out an HVDC grid to bring offshore Baltic wind to load centers.

After months of research and more than a little head-scratching, Gene and I are thrilled to bring you this supplement on the past, present and future of HVDC. We decided to focus this supplement on the advancement of the technology, rather than on case studies, which we already cover in regular issues of the magazine.

The supplement's content was selected and provided solely by T&D World editors. However, we would like to acknowledge ABB for its sponsorship, which provided us the opportunity and the flexibility to share the future of HVDC on an integrated bulk power system.

As we worked to get our arms around the future of HVDC, Gene and I came to the realization that we are reaching an inflection point. The promise of HVDC is fast becoming a reality as the technology and business drivers push us toward critical mass.

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