High Voltage Direct Current Transmission – A Review, Part I
Mohamed H. Okba1, Mohamed H. Saied2, M. Z. Mostafa3, and T. M. Abdel- Moneim3
M.Sc. Candidate, Electrical Engineering Dept., Testing, Measurement, and Protection Sect., Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co., Al Behira, EGYPT, Eng.Okba86@Gmail.com 2 Ph.D., Member, IEEE, GM, Electrical Engineering Dept., Abu-Qir Fertilizers & Chemical Industries Co., Alexandria, EGYPT, Mohammed.Saied@Gmail.com 3 Full-Prof., Member, IEEE, Electrical Engineering Dept., Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University, Alexandria, EGYPT

Abstract—Major milestones in the development of high voltage direct current (HVDC) technologies and concepts were achieved in 1950s. Thanks to the high power thyristor switches (1960-70s), the HVDC technologies reached a significant degree of maturity in 1980s. The classical HVDC uses thyristor-based current-sourced line-commutated converter (LCC) technology. The advent of power semiconductor switches in 1980-90s, with turn on-off capabilities especially the IGBTs and IGCTs, and the on-going progress in this field, have introduced the conventional (two-level) voltage-source converter (VSC) technology and its variety of configurations, multi-level and multi-module VSCs, also as viable converter technologies for power system applications. The DC system is experiencing significant degree of reemergence due to its potential to either directly address, or to facilitate resolving a large number of existing and anticipated interconnected AC power system steady-state and dynamic issues. HVDC technology made possible to transfer bulk power over long distances. In part I of this two-parts paper, comparative evaluations, studies, and review of HVDC versus HVAC transmission systems, are presented. Applications, different schemes of HVDC systems are also outlined. Index Terms— HVDC converters, HVDC converter technologies, Hierarchal Level, HVDC system components, HVDC schemes, HVDC transmission.

The simplest HVDC scheme is the back-to-back interconnection, where it has two converters on the same site and has no transmission lines. These types of connections are used as inter-ties between two different AC transmission systems. The mono-polar link connects two converter stations by a single conductor line and the earth or the sea is used as the returned path. The most common HVDC links are bipolar, where two converter stations are connected with bipolar conductors (±), and each conductor has its own ground return. The multi-terminal HVDC transmission systems have more than two converter stations, which could be connected is series or parallel [15]. II. RELIABILITY AND CONTROLLABILITY EVALUATIONS OF TRANSMISSION SYSTEMS Modern power systems are very complex technical structures. They consist of large number of interconnected subsystems and components each of which interact with, and influence, the overall systems reliability. One definition of reliability is the ability of a component or a system to perform required functions under stated conditions for a stated period of time [16]. Reliability assessments of electrical systems are performed in order to determine where and when new investments, maintenance planning, and operation are going to be made. Power system reliability is often divided by the two functional aspects of system adequacy and security. Adequacy is the ability of the power system to supply the aggregate electric power and energy requirements of the customer at all times, taking into account scheduled and unscheduled outages of system components. Security is the ability of the power system to withstand sudden disturbances such as electric short circuits or non-anticipated loss of system components [16]. A reliability model that includes the whole complexity of the entire electrical power system would be impossible to implement. The analysis would be far too complex and the results would be very difficult to interpret. Instead it is preferable to separate the system into three hierarchal levels (HL): generation (HL1), generation and transmission (HL2), and distribution (HL3). Each level can then be modeled and evaluated individually [16]. A study of HL2 is also referred to as a composite system reliability assessment and this can include both adequacy and security analysis. Reliability assessments of HVDC systems can be modeled and evaluated




he first electric generator was the direct current (DC) generator, and hence, the first electric power transmission line was constructed with DC. Despite the initial supremacy of the DC, the alternating current (AC) supplanted the DC for greater uses. This is because of the availability of the transformers, poly-phase circuits, and the induction motors in the 1880s and 1890s [1]-[2].The ever increasing penetration of the power electronics technologies into power systems is mainly due to the continuous progress of the high-voltage high-power fully-controlled semiconductors [3]-[14]. Transformers are very simple machines and easy to be used to change the voltage levels for transmission, distribution, and stepping down of electric power. Induction motors are the workhorse of the industry and work only with AC. That is why AC has become very useful for the commercial and domestic loads. For long transmission, DC is more favorable than AC because of its economical, technical, and environmental advantages. In general, high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems can be classified in several ways; on the basis of cost, flexibility, and operational requirements.



much power with two conductors as AC lines with three conductors of the same size. Moreover, DC lines require fewer infrastructures than AC lines, which will consequently reduce the cost of DC lines' installation. 1) Economic Considerations: For a given transmission task, feasibility studies are carried out before the final decision of implementing of a HVAC or HVDC system. Whenever long distance transmission is discussed, the concept of “break-even distance” arises. This is where the savings in HVDC line costs offsets the higher converter station costs. Fig.1.a shows typical cost comparison curves between AC and DC transmissions, considering: ƒ Terminal station costs, ƒ Line costs, and ƒ Capitalized value of losses. The DC curve is not as steep as the AC curve because of considerably lower line costs per kilometer. For long AC lines, the cost of intermediate reactive power compensation has to be taken into account. The break-even distance is in the range of 500 to 800 km depending on a number of other factors, like country-specific cost elements, interest rates for project financing, loss evaluation, cost of right-of-way, etc. [38]-[42]. Fig. 1.b shows the power capacity versus distances for both AC and DC systems. 1) Environmental Issues: A HVDC transmission system is basically environmentfriendly, because the improved energy transmission possibilities contribute to a more efficient utilization of existing power plants. The land coverage and the associated right-of-way cost for a HVDC overhead transmission line is not as high as that of an AC line [40]-[41]. This reduces the visual impact and saves land compensation for new projects. It is also possible to increase the power transmission capacity for existing rights of way.

separately and then included into HL2 to evaluate the effect of the overall system reliability. In reliability assessments of such HVDC systems, it is of great importance to know the technicalities of the system, in order to model it. The next section describes the HVDC systems details. The IEEE Standard is a guide for the evaluation of the HVDC converter stations reliability [17]. It promotes the basic concepts of reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM) in all phases of the HVDC station’s life cycle. The intention of introducing these concepts of RAM in HVDC projects is to provide help in: i) Improving RAM for stations in service, ii) Calculating and comparing RAM for different HVDC designs, iii) Reducing costs, iv) Reducing spare parts, and v) Improving HVDC converter specifications [17]-[18]. In [19]-[28], several researches have been published covering the area of assessing the reliability of the HVDC system as a single system. On the other hand, the controllability of HVDC links offers firm transmission capacity without limitation due to network congestion or loop flow on parallel paths. Controllability allows the HVDC to ‘leap-frog’ multiple ‘choke-points’ or bypass sequential path limits in the AC network. Therefore, the utilization of HVDC links is usually higher than that for extra high voltage (EHV) AC transmission lowering the transmission cost per MWh. By eliminating loop flow, controllability frees up parallel transmission capacity for its intended purpose of serving intermediate load and providing an outlet for local generation [29]. III. AC VERSUS DC TRANSMISSION

As the rapid development of renewable energy generation, like wind and solar power generation, and high electrical power generated at long-distances, it is urgent to feed these distributed energy back to power grid through an economic and environmental way. Actually, AC is very familiar for industrial and domestic loads, but it has some limitations for long transmission lines. Moreover, as the city power load is increasing, the capacity of grid need to be expanded, despite that the overhead AC lines have already occupied much transmission space. In a word, a new transmission approach is needed to solve these and other problems, the DC transmission, which is being used in several projects [30], [31]-[32], and [33]-[34]. Switching surges, for example, are the serious transient over voltages for the high voltage transmission lines. In case of AC transmission the peak values are 2 to 3 times normal crest voltage, where for DC transmission it is 1.7 times normal voltage. In addition to, the HVDC transmission has less corona and radio interferences than that of HVAC transmission line [35]-[37]. In the following section, comparisons of the HVDC with the conventional AC transmission systems are carried out. A. Transmission Costs Comparison The cost of any AC or DC transmission lines usually includes the cost of main components, such as; right-of-way (ROW), which is the amount of landscape that might be occupied during installations of towers, conductors, insulators, terminal equipment, in addition to the operational costs such as losses of transmission lines. For given operational constraints of both AC and DC lines, DC lines has the ability to carry as


(b) Fig. 1. Comparison between AC and DC systems, (a) Cost comparison curves, (b) Power capacity versus distances.



While the above mentioned indices can be used to compare voltage stability margins between HVDC systems, they are not applicable for HVAC and HVDC comparison. In [56], authors extend the conventional point of collapse (PoC) method developed for AC systems to determination of saddle-node bifurcation in systems including HVDC links. In [57], a comparison of the performance of the PoC and continuation methods for large AC/DC systems is presented. The proposed continuation method is applied in the two free softwarepackages for stability studies; (UWPflow) and (PSAT) [61][63]. A nonlinear programming approach for estimating the voltage stability in AC/DC systems based on the above mentioned algorithms is presented in [59] where PoCs are found by solving an optimization problem for several test systems. However, more in-depth analytical explanation is required, and control issues of HVDC systems need to be considered. Inappropriate control schemes of firing, extinction, and overlap angles results in commutation failure or singularity in the Jacobian matrix. Therefore, PoC based on this method is not reliable to be used in the comparison of voltage stability of HVDC and HVAC systems. The dVac/dq factor at a particular bus is a commonly used voltage stability index in both AC and DC systems [51], [54]-[55]. However, it has never been used for comparison purposes between HVAC and HVDC systems. V. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF HVDC

Tower structures of DC and AC overhead transmission lines are shown in Fig. 2.There are some environmental issues must be considered for the converter stations. These issues are focused in [43]-[45]. The use of ground or sea return paths in monopolar operation, electromagnetic compatibility, visual impact, and audible noise are explained in [46]-[48]. In [49], an overview of the engineering methods, tools, and design solutions is introduced. Verification methods used in HVDC converter stations design considering acoustic requirements are also explained. IV. VOLTAGE STABILITY OF HVDC VERSUS HVAC INTERCONNECTIONS

Long transmission lines are required to deliver the power to the major load centers or the nearest connection point of the existing transmission network. For long transmission of bulk power several technical and economic issues have to be considered before an optimal decision can be made. Voltage stability in general is one of the main technical issues to be considered [50]-[51]. Several methods, used to obtain the stability margin of a HVDC system, are well presented in the literature [51]-[59]. The most common voltage stability indices used for HVDC systems are maximum available power (MAP), critical effective short circuit ratio (CESCR) and voltage stability factor (VSF). The maximum power method, which determines MAP and the voltage sensitivity method to determine VSF are best described in [52]. These two methods coincide, i.e. the MAP point is reached when VSF nears infinite, if the converters are operated in constant extinction angle and constant power control mode. The basic P-V stability equations are also derived taking into account load characteristics and system parameters. These methods are applied in [53] to determine the most unfavorable load characteristics with respect to degrading power/voltage stability margins. This is done by analyzing the impact of load characteristic on maximum power instability (dP/dI) and MAP of the HVDC system. The Short Circuit Ratio (SCR) or CESCR are also considered as stability factors for an HVDC system, but only appropriate to evaluate the impacts of AC system on the stability margin of HVDC [60]. Authors in [59] introduced a new index (dQt/eig_min) for voltage stability analysis of AC/DC systems. This index is used to classify the system into soft and non-soft modal systems. The latter is defined as the system with constant dQt/eig_min for all the SCRs and vice versa for the former. This index also serves as a basis to decide the type of reactive power compensation and HVDC control strategy.

Although the rationale for selection of HVDC is often economic, there may be other reasons for its selection. In many cases more AC lines are needed to deliver the same power over the same distance due to system stability limitations. Furthermore, the long distance AC lines usually require intermediate switching stations and reactive power compensation. This can increase the substation costs for AC transmission to the point where it is comparable to that for HVDC transmission [29]. HVDC may be the only feasible way to interconnect two asynchronous networks, reduce fault currents, utilize long cable circuits, bypass network congestion, share utility rightsof-way without degradation of reliability, and mitigate environmental concerns. In all of these applications, HVDC nicely complements the AC transmission system. The following points highlight different advantages and disadvantages of the HVDC systems [29]. A. Advantages 1) Greater power per conductor. 2) Simpler line construction and smaller transmission towers. 3) A bipolar HVDC line uses only two insulated sets of conductors, rather than three. 4) Narrower right-of-way. 5) Require only one-third the insulated sets of conductors as a double circuit AC line. 6) Approximate savings of 30% in line construction. 7) Ground return can be used. 8) Each conductor can be operated as an independent circuit. 9) No charging current at steady state.

Fig.2. Typical transmission line structures for approximately 1000 MW.


10) 11) 12) 13) 14) 15) 16) 17) 18) 19) 20) 21) 22)

No Skin effect. Lower line losses. Line power factor is always unity. Line does not require reactive compensation. Synchronous operation is not required. Distances are not limited by stability. May interconnect AC systems of different frequencies. Low short-circuit current on D.C line. Does not contribute to short-circuit current of an AC system. Controllability allows the HVDC to ‘leap-frog’ multiple ‘choke-points’. No physical restriction limiting the distance or power level for HVDC underground or submarine cables Can be used on shared ROW with other utilities Considerable savings in installed cable and losses costs for underground or submarine cable systems [29]. On the other hand, for AC transmission over a distance, there is a drop-off in cable capacity due to its reactive component of charging current, since cables have higher capacitances and lower inductances than AC overhead lines. Although this can be compensated by intermediate shunt compensation for underground cables at increased expense, it is not practical to do so for submarine cables [65]-[66]. C. Asynchronous Ties With HVDC transmission systems, interconnections can be made between asynchronous networks for more economic or reliable system operation. The asynchronous interconnection allows interconnections of mutual benefit while providing a buffer between the two systems. Often these interconnections use back-to-back converters with no transmission line [67]. Asynchronous HVDC links effectively act against propagation of cascading outages in one network from passing to another network. Higher power transfers can be achieved, with improved voltage stability in weak system applications, using capacitor commutated converters. The dynamic voltage support and improved voltage stability offered by voltage source converter (VSC) based converters permits even higher power transfers without as much need for AC system reinforcement. VSC converters do not suffer commutation failures, allowing fast recoveries from nearby AC faults. Economic power schedules which reverse power direction can be made without any restrictions since there is no minimum power or current restrictions [68]. D. Offshore Transmission Self-commutation, dynamic voltage control, and black-start capability allow compact VSC HVDC transmission to serve isolated and orphaned loads on islands, or offshore drilling and production platforms over long distance submarine cables. This capability can eliminate the need for running uneconomic or expensive local generation or provide an outlet for offshore generation such as that from wind. The VSC converters can operate at variable frequency to more efficiently drive large compressor or pumping loads using high voltage motors. Large remote wind generation arrays require a collector system, reactive power support, and outlet transmission. Transmission for wind generation must often traverse scenic or environmentally sensitive areas or bodies of water. Many of the better wind sites with higher capacity factors are located offshore. VSC based HVDC transmission not only allows efficient use of long distance land or submarine cables but also provides reactive support to the wind generation complex and interconnection point [29]. E. Power Delivery to Large Urban Areas Power supply for large cities depends on local generation and power import capability. Local generation is often older and less efficient than newer units located remotely. Air quality regulations may limit the availability of these older units. New transmission into large cities is difficult to site due to right-of-way limitations and land use constraints. Compact VSC-based underground transmission circuits can be placed on existing dual-use rights-of-way to bring in power, as well as to provide voltage support allowing a more economical power supply without compromising reliability. The receiving

B. Disadvantages 1) Converters are expensive. 2) Converters require much reactive power. 3) Multi-terminal or network operation is not easy. 4) Converters generate harmonics and hence, require filters. 5) Break-even distance is influenced by the costs of right-ofway and line construction with a typical value of 500 km [38]-[40]. VI. APPLICATIONS OF HVDC TRANSMISSION SYSTEMS HVDC has gradually become a mature technology for AC system interconnection since the commissioning of the first commercial project between Mainland Sweden to Gotland island in 1954 [30]. The applications of HVDC technology are justified by some special conditions where HVDC is the most feasible or may be the only solution. Such applications include bulk power transmission over long distances, sub-marine cable transmission, and asynchronous systems inter-connection [64].HVDC transmission applications can be broken down to the following different basic categories [29], [37] AND [64]. A. Long Distance Bulk Power Transmission As shown above, HVDC transmission systems often provide a more economical alternative to AC transmission, for exploiting the high electrical power generated at long-distances and bulk-power delivery from clean remote resources, such as; hydroelectric developments, mine-mouth power plants, solar, large-scale wind farms, or major hot-rock geothermal energy. This transmission is established using fewer lines with HVDC than with AC transmission. B. Cable Transmission Unlike the case for AC cables, there is no physical restriction limiting the distance or power level for HVDC underground or submarine cables. Underground cables can be used on shared ROW with other utilities, without impacting reliability concerns over use of common corridors. Saving advantages of underground and submarine cable systems ‘have been shown previously, knowing that depending on the power level to be transmitted; these savings can offset the higher converter station costs at distances of 40 km or more.




terminal acts like a virtual generator delivering power and supplying voltage regulation and dynamic reactive power reserve. Stations are compact and housed mainly indoors making siting in urban areas somewhat easier. Furthermore, the dynamic voltage support offered by the VSC can often increase the capability of the adjacent AC transmission [29]. These applications can be summarized as follows: 1) Power transmission of bulk energy through long distance overhead lines. 2) Power transmission of bulk energy through sea cables. 3) Fast and precise control of energy flow over back-to-back HVDC links, creating a positive damping of electromechanical oscillations, and enhancing the network stability, by modulating the transmitted power. 4) Linking two AC systems with different frequencies using asynchronous back-to-back HVDC links, which have no constraints with respect to systems' frequencies or phase angles. 5) Multi-terminal HVDC links are used to offer necessary strategically and political connections in the traversed areas of the potential partners, when power is to be transmitted from remote generation locations, across different countries, or different areas within one country. 6) Link renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric, mine-mouth, solar, wind farms, or hot-rock geothermal power, when are located far away from the consumers. 7) Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) can be used for the VSC based HVDC technology as opposed to the thyristor based conventional HVDC. This technology is well suited for wind power connection to the grid. 8) Connecting two AC systems without increasing the short circuit power, that the reactive power does not get transmitted over a DC links. This technique is useful in generator connections, various applications of an HVDC system shown in Fig. 3.

A. Back-To-Back Converters The "Back-to-back" indicates that the rectifier and inverter are located in the same station. Back-to-back converters are mainly used for power transmission between adjacent AC grids which cannot be synchronized. They can also be used within a meshed grid in order to achieve a defined power flow. B. Monopolar Long-Distance Transmissions For very long distances and in particular for very long sea cable transmissions, a return path with ground/sea electrodes will be the most feasible solution. In many cases, existing infrastructure or environmental constraints prevent the use of electrodes. In such cases, a metallic return path is used in spite of increased cost and losses. C. Bipolar Long-Distance Transmissions A bipolar is a combination of two independent poles in such a way that a common low voltage return path, if available, will only carry a small unbalance current during normal operation. This configuration is used if the required transmission capacity exceeds that of a single pole. It is also used if requirement to higher energy availability or lower load rejection power makes it necessary to split the capacity on two poles. During maintenance or outages of one pole, it is still possible to transmit part of the power. More than 50% of the transmission capacity can be utilized, limited by the actual overload capacity of the remaining pole, while require only one-third the insulated sets of conductors compared to a double-circuit AC line. Other advantages of a bipolar solution over a solution with two monopoles are reduced cost, due to one common or no return path, and lower losses. In [74]–[76] the bipolar HVDC system configuration has been modeled. The reliability models in these three papers are similar to each other but the objectives in the papers differ. 1) Bipolar With Ground Return Path: This is a commonly used configuration for a bipolar transmission system. The solution provides a high degree of flexibility with respect to operation with reduced capacity during contingencies or maintenance, upon a single-pole fault, the current of the sound pole will be taken over by the ground return path and the faulty pole will be isolated. Following a pole outage caused by the converter, the current can be commutated from the ground return path into a metallic return path provided by the HVDC conductor of the faulty pole. 2) Bipolar With Dedicated Metallic Return Path For Monopolar Operation: If there are restrictions even to temporary use of electrodes, or if the transmission distance is relatively short, a dedicated LVDC metallic return conductor can be considered as an alternative to a ground return path with electrodes. 3) Bipolar Without Dedicated Return Path For Monopolar Operation: A scheme without electrodes or a dedicated metallic return path for monopolar operation will give the lowest initial cost; Monopolar operation is possible by means of bypass switches during a converter pole outage, but not during an HVDC conductor outage.

Fig. 3. Various applications of HVDC systems.




Fig. 4. Different HVDC Schemes.

A short bipolar outage will follow a converter pole outage before the bypass operation can be established. Fig. 4 shows different HVDC Schemes [29]. D. Multi-terminal HVDC System In this configuration, there are more than two sets of converters. A multi-terminal CSC-HVDC system with 12pulse converters per pole is shown in Fig. 5. In this case, converters 1 and 3 can operate as rectifiers, while converter 2 operates as an inverter. Working in the other order, converter 2 can operate as a rectifier and converters 1 and 3 as inverters. By mechanically switching the connections of a given converter, other combinations can be achieved [77].

Fig. 5. Multi-terminal CSC-HVDC system- parallel connection.

VIII. CONCLUSION Comparative evaluations, studies, applications, different schemes, and review of HVDC versus HVAC transmission systems, are presented in this part of the two-parts paper. REFERENCES
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