ABB and National Grid last month celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first major high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) power system that connects Quebec’s extensive renewable energy resources to the major population centers in southern New England.
The first-of-its-kind Sandy Pond HVDC converter station in central Massachusetts has brought up to 2,000 MW of clean energy into New England for the past quarter century.
The Sandy Pond HVDC station, built by ABB and operated by National Grid, opened in 1990 and was the world’s first, and still is, the only multi-terminal bipole HVDC system in the world where three stations are interconnected and operate under a common master control system.
Sandy Pond is the southernmost terminal. A 450-kV, 960-mile HVDC line transmits clean power to New England and southern Quebec from a massive hydroelectric complex located in the James Bay area in northern Quebec. The line originates at the Radisson terminal in northern Quebec, connects to the Nicolet terminal, which is located between Montreal and Quebec City, and ends at Sandy Pond. The multi-terminal network can transmit up to 2,000 MW of electricity to Sandy Pond, or it can split the power supply between Nicolet and Sandy Pond, providing flexibility in the power dispatch.
Sandy Pond is also the largest HVDC facility in the eastern United States. National Grid is majority owner and operates the HVDC system on behalf of some 35 co-owners.
A new MACH control system upgrade at Sandy Pond, as announced by ABB in 2013, will be commissioned by National Grid in June 2016. Key features of the upgrade include better monitoring and diagnostics, faster protection and control, minimal losses, improved cyber security and reliable long-distance transmission.
“This HVDC system has delivered clean, affordable, safe, reliable power to New England electricity customers for two-and-a-half decades,” said Rudy Wynter, president and COO of National Grid’s FERC-regulated businesses. “As we proudly celebrate its silver anniversary, we look forward to developing other HVDC projects that will bring significant amounts of affordable, carbon-free electricity to New England to help diversify and clean our energy supply for years to come.”
National Grid, along with Anbaric Transmission, is proposing to build the Maine and Vermont Green Lines, large-scale HVDC transmission projects that together will transmit more than 1,400 MW of wind power, back stopped by hydroelectricity, from New York, Maine and Canada to New England.