You are on page 1of 38


First commercial application of HVDC between Swedish mainland and the
island of Gotland in 1954.
Underwater link of 90 km and 20 MW.
After the advent of thyristor convertor,
New Brunswick and Quebec 320 MW back-to-back DC interconnection commissioned in
With reduced size, cost and improved reliability of power electronic converters,
has made HVDC transmission more widespread.
In North America, total HVDC transmission capacity in 1987 was 14,000 MW.
In a number of applications HVDC is more effective than AC transmission.
Examples include
Undersea cables, where high capacitance causes additional AC losses. (e.g. 250 km
Baltic Cable between Sweden and Germany)
Long power transmission without intermediate taps.
Example, in remote areas
Power transmission and stabilization between unsynchronized AC distribution systems
Connecting a remote generating plant to the distribution grid
Reducing line cost: 1) fewer conductors 2) thinner conductors since HVDC does not
suffer from the skin effect
Facilitate power transmission between different countries that use AC at differing
voltages and frequencies
Synchronize AC produced by renewable energy sources
The disadvantages of HVDC are in conversion, switching and control.
Expensive inverters with limited overload capacity
Higher losses in static inverters at smaller transmission distances
The cost of the inverters may not be offset by reductions in line construction cost
and lower line loss.
High voltage DC circuit breakers are difficult to build because some mechanism
must be included in the circuit breaker to force current to zero, otherwise arcing and
contact wear would be too great to allow reliable switching.
Book Ref :
1. Padiyar , K. R., HVDC power transmission system
2. Edward Wilson Kimbark, Direct Current Transmission
Modern DC power transmission is relatively a new technology which made a
modest beginning in the year 1954.
The advent of thyristor valve is the improvements over last 18 years has been
responsible for the acceleration of the growth of HVDC technology.
Improving reliability and reducing cost of converter stations.
The latest development of multi-terminal system operation has increased the scope
of application of HVDC systems
While it is true that the HVDC systems are quite reliable and converter control
allows flexibility in the system operation.
The relative merits of two modes of transmission (ac & dc) which
need to be considered by a system planner are based on the
following factors:
Economics of transmission
Technical performance
Cost of transmission
Line compensation
Cost of Compensation
Converters and Filters.
The cost of transmission line includes the investment and operational costs.
The investment includes costs of Right of Way (ROW), transmission towers,
conductors, insulators and terminal equipment. The operational costs include
mainly the cost of losses.
The characteristics of the insulators vary the type of voltage applied.
For simplicity, if it is assumed that the insulator characteristics are similar for
ac & dc and depend on the peak level of the voltage applied with the respect to
the ground.
Then it can be shown that for lines designed with the same insulation level, a dc
line carry as much power with two conductors (with positive and negative
polarities with respect to ground) as an ac line with three conductors for the same
This implies that for a given power level dc line requires less ROW, simpler and
cheaper towers and reduced conductor and insulation costs.
The power losses are also reduced with dc as there are only two conductors.
The absence of skin effect with dc is also beneficial in reducing power losses
The dielectric losses in case of power cables is also very less for dc
The corona effects tend to be less significant on dc conductors than for ac and this
also leads to the choice of economic size of the conductors with dc transmission.
The other factors that influence the line cost are the cost of compensation and
terminal equipment.
Dc lines do not require compensation but the terminal equipment costs are
increased due to the presence of the converter and filters.
Ac tends to be more economical than dc for distance less than break even
distance and costlier for longer distances.
The break even distance can vary from 500 to 800 km in overhead lines depending
on the per unit line costs.
The DC transmission has some positive feature which are lacking in AC
transmission. These are mainly due to the fast controllability of power in DC lines
through converter control.
The following are the advantages:
a. Full control over power transmitted.
b. The ability to enhance transient and dynamic stability in association AC networks.
c. Fast control to limit fault currents in DC lines. These make it feasible to avoid DC breakers
in two terminal DC links.
In addition, the DC transmission overcomes some of the problems of
AC transmission. These are described further:
Stability Limits
Voltage Control
The power transfer in AC lines is dependent
on the angle difference between the voltage
phasors at the two ends.
For a given power level, these angle increases
with distance.
The maximum power transfer is limited by
the considerations of steady state and transient
The Figure shows the power capability of the
DC lines which is unaffected by the distance
of transmission, and only its limited by the
current carrying capacity of the conductors
(Thermal Limit )
The voltage control in AC lines is complicated by the line charging and inductive
voltage drops.
The voltage profile in an AC line is relatively flat only for the fixed level of power
transfer corresponding to surge impedance loading (SIL).
The voltage profile varies with the line loading.
For the constant voltage at the line terminals, the mid point voltages reduced for
the line loading higher then SIL and increase for loading less than SIL.
This is shown in figure followed:
The maintenance of constant voltages at the two ends requires reactive power
control from inductive to capacitive as the line loading is increased.
The reactive power requirements increase with the increase in the line lengths.
Although dc converter stations require reactive power related to the line loadings,
the line itself does not require reactive power.
The steady state charging currents in ac lines pose serious problems in cables this
puts the break even distance for the cable transmission around 40 km.
Fig - Variation of voltage along the line.
The reliability of dc transmission systems is quite good and comparable to that of
Ac systems.
An exhaustive record of existing HVDC links in the world is available from which
the reliability statistics can be computed.
It must be remembered that the performance of the thyristor valves is much more
reliable than mercury arc valves and further development in devices control and
protection is likely to improve the reliability level
For example the development of direct light triggered (LTT) is expected to
improve reliability because of the elimination of the high voltage pulse
transformers and auxiliary supplies for turning on the device.
Both energy availability and transient reliability of existing dc systems with
thyristor valves is 95% or more.
The detailed comparison of ac & dc transmission in terms of economics and
technical performance leads to the following areas of application for dc
Long distance bulk power transmission.
Underground or underwater cables.
Asynchronous interconnections of ac systems operating at different
frequencies or where independent control of systems is desired.
Control and stabilization of power flows in ac ties in an integrated power
The scope of application of DC transmission is limited by the following
The difficulty of breaking dc currents which results in high cost of dc breakers.
Inability to use transformers to change the voltage levels.
High cost of conversion equipment.
Generation of harmonics which require ac & dc filters, adding to the cost of converter
Complexity of control.
Types of DC Links
Converter Station
Converter Unit
Converter Transformer
Reactive Power Source
Smoothing Reactor
DC Switchgear
Types of DC link
HVDC links can be broadly classified into:
Monopolar links
Bipolar links
Homopolar links
Back-to-back links
Multiterminal links
It uses one conductor
The return path is provided by ground or water
Use of this system is mainly due to cost considerations
A metallic return may be used where earth resistivity is too high
It uses two conductors, one positive and the other negative
Each terminal has two converters of equal rated voltage, connected in series on the
DC side
The junctions between the converters is grounded
Currents in the two poles are equal and there is no ground current
If one pole is isolated due to fault, the other pole can operate with ground and
carry half the rated load (or more using overload capabilities of its converter line)
It has two or more conductors all having the same polarity, usually
Since the corona effect in DC transmission lines is less for negative
polarity, homopolar link is usually operated with negative polarity
The return path for such a system is through ground
Components of HVDC Transmission Systems
1. Converters
2. Smoothing reactors
3. Filters
4. Reactive power supplies
5. Electrodes
6. DC lines
7. AC circuit breakers
They perform AC/DC and DC/AC conversion
They consist of valve bridges and transformers
Valve bridge consists of high voltage valves connected in a 6-pulse or 12-pulse arrangement
The transformers are ungrounded such that the DC system will be able to establish its own reference
to ground
Smoothing reactors
They are high reactors with inductance as high as 1 H in series with each pole
They serve the following:
They decrease harmonics in voltages and currents in DC lines
They prevent commutation failures in inverters
Prevent current from being discontinuous for light loads
Harmonic filters
Converters generate harmonics in voltages and currents. These harmonics may cause overheating of
capacitors and nearby generators and interference with telecommunication systems
Harmonic filters are used to mitigate these harmonics
Reactive power supplies
Under steady state condition conditions, the reactive power consumed by the converter is about
50% of the active power transferred
Under transient conditions it could be much higher
Reactive power is, therefore, provided near the converters
For a strong AC power system, this reactive power is provided by a shunt capacitor
Electrodes are conductors that provide connection to the earth for neutral. They have large surface
to minimize current densities and surface voltage gradients
DC lines
They may be overhead lines or cables
DC lines are very similar to AC lines
AC circuit breakers
They used to clear faults in the transformer and for taking the DC link out of service
They are not used for clearing DC faults
DC faults are cleared by converter control more rapidly
The system planner should consider for perfect HVDC transmission
Some of the factors should be consider:
Technical Performance
Consideration in the planning for DC depends on the applications
Long Distance Bulk Power Transmission
Interconnection between two adjacent systems
DC and AC Alternatives for the same level of system security and reliability are likely to
have the same power carrying capability.
DC and AC Alternatives for the same level of system security and AC interconnection
will be more than that for DC.
The choice for DC interconnection will be based on the following consideration.
Small fluctuation in the voltage and frequency do not affect the power flow which can be set at any
desired value.
The system security can be enhanced by fast control of DC power.
DC link interconnection , there are three possible
configuration for interconnection. These are:
A two terminal transmission where each terminal is
located at suitable place somewhere within the network
and connected by a DC overhead line or cable.
Aback to back HVDC station located somewhere within
one of the network and an AC line from the other
network to the common station.
A back to back station located close to the border
between the two systems.
For a long distance bulk power transmission, the voltage level is chosen to
minimize the total costs for a given power level (P).
The total costs include investment (C
) and cost of losses (C
The investment cost per unit length are modeled as:
= A
+ A
nV + A
nq ---------------------(1)
Where V is the voltage level with respect to ground
N is the number of conductors
Q is the total cross section of each conductor
A0 , A1 and A2 are constants
The cost of losses per unit length is given by



-------------------------- (2)
= Conductor resistivity
T = total operation time in a year
L = Loss load factor
Equation 2 can be simplified as;



= TLp
By minimizing the sum of C2 and the third temt in
C, we have.
nq= (A
J = P/(nqV) = A2/(A3)
Where J is the current density.
Total Costs
C = C1 + C2
The continuing technological developments in the areas of power semiconductor
devices, digital electronics, adaptive control, DC protection equipment have
increased the pace of application of DC transmission.
The major contribution of these developments is to reduce the cost of converter
stations while improving the reliability and performance.
Power Semiconductor and valves
Converter Control
DC Breakers
Conversion of existing AC lines
Operation with weak AC system
Active DC filter
Capacitor Commutated Converter (CCC)
UHV DC Transmission
The cost of the converters can come down if the number of devices to be
connected in series and parallel can be brought down.
The size of the devices has gone up to 100 mm (in diameters) and there is no need
for parallel connection.
The development of light triggered thyristors should also improve the reliability of
converter operation.
The cost of the valves is also reduced by the application of zinc oxide gapless
arresters and protective ring methods.
The power rating of thyristors is increased by better cooling methods. Deionized
water cooling has now become a standard and results in reduced losses in cooling.
The development of micro-computer based converter control equipment has now
made it possible to design systems with completely redundant converter control
with automatic transfer between systems in the case of a malfunction.
Not only is the forced outage rate of control equipment reduced but it is also
possible to perform scheduled preventive maintenance on the stand-by system
when the converter is in operation.
The use of a mini-simulator will make it feasible to check vital control and
protection functions.
The micro-computer based control also has the exibility to try adaptive control
algorithms or even the use of expert systems for fault diagnosis and protection.
With the development and testing of prototype DC breakers, it will be possible to
going for tapping an existing DC link or the development of new MTDC systems.
The DC breaker ratings are not likely to exceed the full load ratings as the control
intervention is expected to limit the fault current.
The control and protection of MTDC systems is not a straight forward extension
of that used in the two-terminal DC systems.
The possibility of decentralized control necessitated by communication failure, the
coordination of control and protection are some of the issues currently being
The constraints on Row are forcing some utilities to look into the option of
converting existing AC circuits to DC in order to increase the power transfer limit.
There could be some operational problems due to electromagnetic induction from
AC circuits operating in the same Row.
An experimental project of converting a single circuit of a double circuit 220 KV
line is currently under commissioning stage in India.
The strength of AC systems connected to the terminals of a DC link is measured in
terms of short circuit ratio (SCR) which is defined as