Alstom Takes World Leadership in a Key Technology for the Energy Turnaround
and the Future of Very High Voltage Direct Current Grids
A major breakthrough to integrate renewable energy sources into the European
electricity system, in collaboration with RTE and as part of the TWENTIES
LEVALLOIS-PERRET, France -- February 25, 2013
Alstom (Paris:ALO) Grid has achieved the best performance ever seen in a High
Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) circuit breaker while testing a prototype at
Alstom’s testing facility in Villeurbanne, France, in presence of an
independent expert. In less than 2.5 milliseconds^1, the HVDC circuit breaker
interrupted currents exceeding 3,000 amperes. These tests were conducted as
part of RTE’s demonstration activities on the architecture and technologies
for DC power grids, within the large scale demonstration project TWENTIES
supported by the FP7 programme of the European Commission. In the context of
the energy turnaround, these tests, led by RTE, contribute to the development
and implementation of new technologies which facilitate the integration of
renewable energy sources into the European electrical grid.
“European electricity transmission operators are faced with the challenge of
integrating renewable energy sources. We are proud to be one of the pioneers
in this sector”, asserts RTE Chairman Dominique Maillard.
“This technological achievement is excellent news for the entire electrical
engineering community, and a considerable advance in our industry,” says
Alstom Grid President Grégoire Poux-Guillaume. “The direct current circuit
breaker is a key element in building Supergrids, both onshore and offshore. It
will help to increase the share of renewable energy on the grid.”
These results validate Alstom Grid’s major technological breakthrough. The
circuit breaker is a key element of power network protection in the event of a
short circuit. Well-known for alternative current connections, the technology
is required to perform 10 to 20 times faster to be used for direct current.
Operators increasingly use direct current to guarantee that power is carried
efficiently over long distances or to stabilise the grid as it is confronted
with a growing supply of power from variable sources. Circuit breakers are not
necessary for direct current transmission line connections between two points.
However, having a circuit breaker is vital for protecting complex so-called
‘meshed’ grids that will, in the near future, require the interconnection of
several points. The challenge is to avoid failures and blackouts, by cutting
the current in the malfunctioning element as fast as possible, isolating the
fault from the rest of the grid. Alstom Grid’s new circuit breaker paves the
way to multiple possibilities for future direct current grids.
Alstom’s achievement is even more valuable as it was conducted as part of the
TWENTIES European project, which aims to foster the integration of renewable
energy, especially wind energy, within Europe’s power grid by 2020. To meet
this challenge, 26 partners in the energy sector coming from 10 member States
are “pooling their expertise”. RTE, the French electricity transmission system
operator, has mobilised its R&D resources to lead these demonstration
activities on the future direct current offshore grid, one of the six
demonstrators within the TWENTIES project.
The partners involved in the RTE lead demonstrator have identified an
integrated set of components to protect the grid in case of default and have
quantified expected performances in different network architectures. Alstom
Grid’s results already met some of these expectations, overcoming one of the
major technical obstacles for the development of large scale high voltage
direct current networks.
Tests will continue until the summer of 2013 as part of the TWENTIES project.
The Alstom Grid teams are then planning on pursuing the qualification of this
technology through a new milestone: interrupting a 7,500-ampere current at 180
^1 Comparable to the speed of the nerve impulse between the eye and the brain.
RTE, Réseau de Transport d’Electricité, is a utility company. Our job is to
provide all of our customers with access to an economic, clean and secure
electricity supply. RTE connect its customers thanks to a suitable
infrastructure, and provides them all resources and services they need to use
it. All with an emphasis on economic efficiency, respect for the environment
and security of supply.To do this, RTE operates, maintains and develops the
high and extra high voltage power network. It guarantees the reliability and
proper operation of the power system. RTE transports electricity between
electricity suppliers (French and European) and consumers, whether they are
electricity distributors or industrial consumers directly connected to the
With 100,000 km of lines between 63,000 and 400,000 volts and 46 cross-border
lines, the network operated by RTE is the biggest in Europe. In 2012, RTE
posted turnover of €4,529 million and currently employs some 8,400 staff.
Alstom is one of the world’s leaders in power generation, power transmission
and rail infrastructure and sets the benchmark for innovative and
environmentally friendly technologies. Alstom builds the fastest train and the
highest capacity automated metro in the world, provides turnkey integrated
power plant solutions and associated services for all thermal (coal, nuclear,
gas...) and renewable (hydro, wind, solar...) energy sources. It offers a wide
range of solutions for power transmission, with a focus on smart grids. The
Group employs 92,000 people in around 100 countries. It had sales of €20
billion and booked close to €22 billion in orders in 2011/12.
Alstom Grid has 130 years of expertise in electrical grids. Whether for
utilities or electro-intensive industries or facilitating the trading of
energy, Alstom Grid brings power to its customers' projects. Alstom Grid ranks
among the top 3 in electrical transmission sector with an annual sales
turnover of more than €4 billion in 2011. It has 20,000 employees and over 90
manufacturing and engineering sites worldwide. At the heart of the development
of Smart Grid, Alstom Grid offers products, services and integrated energy
management solutions across the full energy value chain—from power generation,
through transmission and distribution grids and to the large end user.
The European Union, in its backing for the progressive integration of
renewable energies, especially wind power, launched in April 2010 the TWENTIES
Project, an initiative whose objective is to significantly advance the
development and implementation of new technologies which facilitate the
widespread integration of wind power generation into the European electricity
TWENTIES, by mean of the implementation of six large scale demonstrations,
intends to remove the barriers to integrate more wind power (from both onshore
and offshore) into the European system by 2020. The full scale demonstrations
aim at proving the benefits of novel technologies, the majority coupled with
innovative system management approaches.
TWENTIES is the largest renewable energy demonstration project ever funded by
the DG Energy of the European Commission. Red Eléctrica de España, the Spanish
Transmission System Operator, is Project Coordinator and works together with
another 25 companies and institutions from 10 different Member States and one
Olivia Ricour – Tel +33 1 41 02 17 77 / 06 22 95 73 90
Emmanuelle Chatelain, Tel. +33 1 41 49 37 38
Isabelle Tourancheau – Tel. +33 1 41 49 39 95
Nathalie Bourotte (Alstom Grid) – Tel +33 1 49 01 62 17
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.