ABB solves 100-year-old electrical puzzle - new technology to enable future DC grid

ABB solves 100-year-old electrical puzzle - new technology to enable future DC

Development of a DC breaker for high voltage transmission will help shape the
grid of the future

PR Newswire

CARY, N.C., Nov. 7, 2012

CARY, N.C., Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --ABB (NYSE:ABB), the leading global
power and automation technology group, today announced a breakthrough in the
ability to interrupt direct current, solving a 100-year-old electrical
engineering puzzle and paving the way for a more efficient and reliable
electricity supply system.

After years of research, ABB has developed the world's first circuit breaker
for high voltage direct current (HVDC). It combines very fast mechanics with
power electronics, and will be capable of 'interrupting' power flows
equivalent to the output of a large power station within five milliseconds -
30times faster than the blink of a human eye.

The breakthrough removes a 100-year-old barrier to the development of DC
transmission grids, which will enable the efficient integration and exchange
of renewable energy. DC grids will also improve grid reliability and enhance
the capability of existing AC (alternating current) networks. ABB is in
discussions with power utilities to identify pilot projects for the new

"ABB has written a new chapter in the history of electrical engineering," said
Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB. "This historical breakthrough will make it possible to
build the grid of the future. Overlay DC grids will be able to interconnect
countries and continents, balance loads and reinforce the existing AC
transmission networks."

The Hybrid HVDC breaker development has been a flagship research project for
ABB, which invests over $1 billion annually in R&D activities. The breadth of
ABB's portfolio and unique combination of in-house manufacturing capability
for power semiconductors, converters and high voltage cables (key components
of HVDC systems) were distinct advantages in the new development.

HVDC technology is needed to facilitate the long distance transfer of power
from hydropower plants, the integration of offshore wind power, the
development of visionary solar projects, and the interconnection of different
power networks. ABB pioneered HVDC nearly 60 years ago and continues to be a
technology driver and market leader with many innovations and developments.
With over 70 HVDC projects, ABB accounts for around half the global installed
base, representing an installed capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts (MW).

Deployment of HVDC has led to an increasing number of point-to-point
connections in different parts of the world. The logical next step is to
connect the lines and optimize the network. ABB is already working on the
construction of multi-terminal systems and the latest DC breaker innovation is
a major step in the evolution of HVDC grids. In parallel to the new hybrid
breaker development, ABB has an established HVDC grid simulation center
developing solutions for future DC overlay grid operations.

Further information, including video, can be found at

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable
utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering
environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100
countries and employs about 135,000 people. The company's North American
operations, headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, employ about 20,000 people
in multiple manufacturing, service and other major facilities.

For help with any technical terms in this release, please go to:


Contact: ABB Group Media Relations, Thomas Schmidt, Antonio Ligi, Zurich,
Switzerland, +41 43 317 6568,,
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