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Overview of DC-DC Converters dedicated to


HVDC Grids
J. D. Páez, D. Frey, J. Maneiro, Member, IEEE, S. Bacha, Senior Member, IEEE, and P. Dworakowski

The development of HVDC grids presents several technical


 challenges [3], [11], [12], among other reasons due to the
Abstract— HVDC grids are a promising alternative for the differences on each HVDC corridor to be interconnected. In
expansion of the existing AC grid. They are interesting for the fact, despite the efforts being done to standardize HVDC grids
integration of large-scale renewable energy sources, connecting
[13], the development of those grids is likely to include existing
high power offshore windfarms, interconnecting new market
areas, including asynchronous AC grids and off-grid communities, ‘non-standardized’ P2P links. So having corridors developed by
and they can even provide ancillary services to the AC system. It different manufacturers, with different HVDC technology,
is expected to create a more reliable and flexible transmission grid grounding schemes, voltage levels and dynamic responses will
using HVDC grids. However, their development will require, need interface elements: DC-DC power converters for utility
among other technologies, DC-DC conversion systems. Although networks [14]–[16].
the DC-DC conversion techniques are well understood in low and
DC-DC power converters dedicated to HVDC grids can
medium voltage, a specific review on the approaches for high
voltage is needed. This paper presents an overview of the DC-DC provide more functionalities than just voltage stepping [16],
power converters dedicated to HVDC proposing a classification [17], for example they can add power flow control, DC grid
based on their structure. Two large families are established: those voltage regulation, fault isolation, interface different DC
which provide galvanic isolation, and those which do not. Several transmission schemes such as monopolar or bipolar systems
sub-families are also proposed. An overview of the main HVDC and serve as an interface between LCC and VSC systems.
applications that can be targeted with each family is also
Although several methods to achieve DC-DC conversion in
presented, highlighting the main converter requirements for each
application case. low and medium voltage exist and are well known [18]–[20],
the adaptation of these techniques to high voltage is not
Index Terms—DC-DC power converters, HVDC transmission, straightforward. HVDC converters require the association of
Modular Multilevel Converter (MMC), power grids, wind energy several low voltage components, such as power semiconductor
integration. switches [21] and/or low-voltage converters [19], precluding
the direct use of the classical conversion methods.
I. INTRODUCTION Given the differences with the low and medium voltage

H VDC technology has been recognized as a solution for


long-distance bulk-power transmission, asynchronous AC
system interconnections, interconnection of different regions
environment, an overview of the techniques specifically
dedicated to HVDC is needed. This allows to identify the
trends, challenges and opportunities in this area. Reviewing the
requiring submarine and underground cables, and transmission literature there are few publications summarizing the different
of offshore wind power to shore [1], [2]. Since the number of proposals [22]–[24]. Nevertheless, their approach is oriented to
HVDC point-to-point (P2P) links is increasing, the idea of specific circuits thus making it difficult to identify a trend or the
creating grids by their interconnection becomes possible [3]. general methods to build HVDC DC-DC structures.
Creating HVDC grids as an overlay onto the existing AC This paper gives an overview on this subject taking a
system is interesting because it adds flexibility and allows to different methodology: it proposes a classification of the
upgrade the congested AC grids [4], [5]. This is necessary for different circuits grouping them by families according to their
the integration of remote large scale renewable sources into the structure. This allows to omit the details of each converter and
system [6]–[8], characterized by their location far from the load go directly for the identification of the common advantages and
centers and their generation variability. HVDC grids can also disadvantages of the different conversion methods.
bring ancillary services to the grid, for example providing In addition, the main HVDC applications for DC-DC
frequency stability and inertia [9], critical points to solve as the converters are analyzed, identifying the requirements for each
penetration of power-electronics interfaced sources connected case. Then, the possible converter families that have the
to the electrical grid increases. Besides, these grids allow the
interconnection of different market areas [3], [7], including off-
grid communities [10].

This work was supported by a grant overseen by the French National J. D. Páez, D. Frey, J. Maneiro, S. Bacha and P. Dworakowski are with
Research Agency (ANR) as part of the “Investissements d’Avenir” Program SuperGrid Institute, 23 rue Cyprian, F-69100 Villeurbanne, France (e-mail:
ANE-ITE-002-01. juan.paez@supergrid-institute.com)
S. Bacha and D. Frey are also with Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Grenoble
INP*, G2ELab, F-38000 Grenoble, France.

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DC-DC Converters for HVDC

Isolated Non-Isolated

Dual Active Flyback/Forward DC-Autotransformer Transformerless


Bridge based

Cascaded Multi- Modular


Two-Level
converter Multilevel
Resonant DC Modular

Based on
Classical F2F-MMC Hybrid Single stage Multiple stage MMC-DC
choppers

Capacitive Inductive

Fig. 1. Proposed classification for DC-DC converters dedicated to HVDC applications.

potential to fit those requirement are established. than galvanic isolation, using an isolated structure allows to
The proposed circuit classification is summarized in Fig. 1. simplify the design and the safety assessment. Other advantages
In the following sections each family is briefly described. As a of these topologies are the easy voltage adaptation using the AC
first classification criteria the galvanic isolation, i.e. the transformer ratio and the inherent DC-fault blocking capability.
galvanic separation between DC input and output ports of the In case of a DC-fault, blocking both AC-DC conversion stages
converter, was taken. The isolated topologies are presented in of the converter stops the fault current.
Section II and the non-isolated topologies in Section III. Section The converters that use a transformer can be considered as
IV analyzes the potential applications of each subfamily. different versions of the Dual Active Bridge (DAB) [25]. The
For explanation purposes, throughout the paper, voltage, proposed classification assumes that both DC-AC and AC-DC
power and transformation ratio characteristics are first defined stages are identical, but combinations of different bridge types
according to [17], as presented in Table I. are also possible [26]. The few circuits that do not fit into the
DAB category are based on the flyback/forward principles.
TABLE I
HVDC APPLICATIONS CHARACTERISTICS A. Two-Level High Voltage DAB
Parameter Classification Range The Two-Level HV DAB topology consists of two two-level
HV side DC Voltage Medium VDC < 100 kV VSCs interconnected with a transformer (Fig. 2). The converter
(VDC-HIGH)* High 100 kV ≤ VDC standard operation is based on phase shift modulation at a fixed
Low PDC < 50 MW duty cycle. Modified modulation schemes can be used to
Medium 50 MW ≤ PDC < 500 MW improve the harmonic behavior of the converter [22].
Transferred DC Power
This converter presents several drawbacks for its utilization
High 500 MW ≤ PDC
in HVDC. The high dv/dt imposed on the transformer, given the
Low 1 < Ratio ≤ 1.5 two-level operation, causes insulation and electromagnetic
Transformation Ratio
(VDC-HIGH/VDC-LOW) Medium 1.5 < Ratio ≤ 5 interference (EMI) issues. Furthermore, snubber circuits and/or
High 5 < Ratio active gate-driving are needed to avoid static and dynamic
*Power and transformation ratio characteristics were defined previously in voltage sharing unbalances on the transistor valves [21],
[17]. The values for the voltage were assumed.
increasing switching losses.
II. ISOLATED TOPOLOGIES B. Cascaded Multi-Converter DAB
The isolated circuits proposed in the literature rely on a DC-
AC-DC conversion chain with two AC-DC conversion stages.
The galvanic separation is done on the AC bus by magnetic
coupling using an AC transformer or coupled inductors.
Isolation may be needed mainly for safety and grounding
reasons. In the first case having isolation is useful to prevent the
apparition of high-voltage (HV) on low-voltage (LV) terminals, Fig. 2. Two-Level High Voltage DAB.
a very important aspect to take into account, especially in high In the Cascaded Multi-Converter DAB circuits, the HV
transformation ratio applications. Concerning grounding, the structure is built using low-power, low-voltage DAB converters
isolated structures offer the possibility of having different as elementary cells [27], avoiding the need for series connected
grounding schemes on both DC grids to be interconnected. transistors because each cell only blocks a portion of the total
Although those tasks can also be achieved by means other

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Since the SMs switch under hard-switching conditions at low


frequency then the main source of losses in MMC-SMs based
converters is from semiconductor conduction.
Diverse modulation schemes can be used to optimize the
operation or the size of the converter. For example the use of a
trapezoidal modulation or MF operation have been proposed to
reduce the size of the transformer, passive elements and SM
capacitors [34], [35]. Nevertheless, the design of a high-voltage
high-power AC transformer working with non-sinusoidal
waveforms at MF is challenging. Additionally, a tradeoff
(a) (b) (c) (d) between size reduction and increase of switching losses has to
Fig. 3. Cascaded Multi-converter DAB, with different possible configurations: be made [35].
(a) Input-series Output-series (ISOS), (b) Input-parallel Output-series (IPOS), Since the Classical F2F-MMC requires two fully rated
(c) Input-series Output-parallel (ISOP), (d) Input-parallel Output-parallel MMCs, its size and cost are considerable. The Hybrid versions
(IPOP)
[36] represent an alternative to improve these issues.
DC voltage. In addition, since each cell only handles a fraction In these circuits [37]–[39] some SMs are replaced by
of the total power, the current rating of the semiconductors can transistor valves (Fig. 4b), combining the advantages of the
be reduced. MMC and the two-level VSCs [40]. The SMs act as wave-
The converter cells can be associated in different manners shapers providing soft switching conditions to the valves, and
(Fig. 3) [28], [29]. If the cell terminals are connected in parallel, serve to control the dv/dt on the transformer. The transistor
the DC line current is distributed among all the cells whereas valves control the current paths and can prevent the
the DC line voltage is shared when using a series connection. simultaneous conduction of two same-leg converter arms,
The former configuration is advantageous when high DC decreasing conduction losses. Because this operation is
currents are required and the latter for high voltages. Both different to the classical MMC, each hybrid topology
schemes can be combined to meet the requirements of different implements its own control and balancing methods.
HVDC applications [30], [31]. Since all the Modular Multilevel DAB topologies present the
For the converter operation, each cell is controlled as a advantages of the MMC such as high modularity, reliability and
standard DAB, with the additional constraint of a balanced availability, these structures are suitable for high voltage and
distribution of cell voltages and currents [28], [29], [31]. high power applications at low voltage transformation ratios.
Medium frequency (MF) operation is possible in order to
reduce the size and weight of the passive components and the
transformer. Additionally, if properly sized, the circuit can
operate under soft-switching conditions reducing losses.
The main advantages of this converter family are the
modularity and scalability: the converter can be scaled in power
and voltage using the same elementary cells. The different
association variants allow to obtain high transformation ratios
at high power (IPOS scheme). However the main issue of these
structures is the high insulation requirement of the transformer,
limiting their use to the medium voltage range.
C. Modular Multilevel DAB
The Modular Multilevel DAB converters are built connecting
(a)
two Modular Multilevel Converters (MMC) through an AC
transformer in a front-to-front (F2F) structure (Fig. 4a) [32].
Both MMCs are controlled to generate two phase-shifted AC
waveforms at the transformer terminals to control the power
transfer.
The generation of the AC voltages is done by the bypass or
insertion of MMC submodule (MMC-SM) capacitors in each
converter arm. The SMs can be implemented with various
bridge types giving different functionalities [33]. The most
common types are: half bridge (HB) SMs and full bridge (FB)
SMs. The stacks made of HBs generate unipolar voltages while
those made of FBs can generate positive and negative voltages.
The second option can be useful to improve the DC-fault (b)
management. Fig. 4. Modular Multilevel DABs (F2F-MMCs). (a) Classical F2F-MMC [32],
(b) Some Hybrid F2F-MMCs: the AAC [38] and the TAMC [37].

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Another advantage is the high level of technological maturity


of the SMs and semiconductor valves. However, since two fully
rated MMCs are needed, even in the hybrid versions, this could
be a non-optimal solution [41].
D. Flyback/Forward based
Only a few publications propose isolated converters different
to the DAB solutions (Fig. 5) [42], [43]. They are based on the Fig. 6. DC-Autotransformer [41], [44].
principles of flyback and forward converters. In some circuits transformer rating [41]. The voltage rating of each individual
the adaption to high-voltage of the classical structures is converter is also decreased thanks to their series connection.
achieved using one central coupled inductor and MMC-SMs to Nevertheless, these benefits are gradually lost as the voltage
emulate high-voltage switches [43]. In other cases, modular transformation ratio increases [41], therefore this structure is
isolated structures based on the arrangement of several coupled more appropriate for low and medium transformation ratios.
inductors are proposed [42].
B. Resonant Topologies
Those structures have been proposed for high step-up voltage
ratios. However, the high insulation requirements of the These converters are based on resonant LC tanks. The
coupled inductors in the modular approaches, and the high principle is to use the resonance as a step-up mechanism while
current requirements in the centralized inductor circuits are achieving the soft switching of the semiconductors at the same
challenging, potentially limiting these topologies to low power time. According to the number of resonant tanks, this family
applications. can be subdivided into single-stage, if only one is used, or
multiple stage, if several low power tanks are sequentially
activated.
1) Resonant Single-Stage
In these converters (Fig. 7) [45]–[47] the DC-DC conversion
is done using a DC-AC-DC scheme without isolation.
Semiconductor bridges, implemented with series connected
devices, are interconnected on their AC side through a main
resonant tank. The topology in [46] features an LCL T network
as the resonant element, whereas the converter in [45] uses an
LC parallel tank followed by a voltage doubler.

(a) (b)
Fig. 5. (a) Modular Flyback/Forward based converter [42], (b) Centralized
coupled inductor Flyback/Forward based converter [43]. Fig. 7. One Single-Stage resonant converter. LCL converter proposed in [46].
All these converters were proposed for high transformation
III. NON-ISOLATED TOPOLOGIES ratios. However, since only a central resonant tank is used and
because of the operation of the converter, the passive
The range of non-isolated topologies is larger than in the components are exposed to very high electrical stresses. Since
isolated case. A first classification is made based on the all the power passes through few resonant elements, their
presence of a transformer in the circuit resulting in two families: current and voltage ratings could be very high. These issues can
DC Autotransformer converters and transformerless potentially limit the operation to the medium power range at
converters.
A. DC Autotransformer
The HVDC Autotransformer type converters (Fig. 6) [41],
[44] use two HV DC-AC and AC-DC structures connected in
series on the DC ports and interconnected through an AC
transformer on the AC side. This implementation is feasible
with the existing HVDC converter technology: VSCs (two-
level, three-level or MMC), VSC-LCC or VSC-diode rectifier
[44].
This solution differs from those of the DAB family in that
only a fraction of the power flows through the AC link. This
feature contributes to decrease the power losses and the Fig. 8. One Multiple-Stage resonant converter. Converter proposed in [23].

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medium step transformation ratios. main source of losses is from semiconductor conduction. The
2) Resonant Multiple-Stage increase of frequency for the AC current component can
In this subfamily (Fig. 8) [23], [48]–[50], the full rated decrease the size of passives but at cost of increasing switching
central resonant tank is replaced by several low power resonant losses.
circuits, reducing significantly the complexity of the design and The DC-MMC structures have the advantages of modularity,
getting closer to a modular structure. In a sequential process high reliability and scalability. They could be a solution for high
each tank is activated and the power is consecutively transferred power and high voltage applications. Their main drawbacks are
from one tank to the next one, until it is delivered to the HV the rating of the filters, when they are required, and the
converter terminal. The inverse process is used for step-down potentially high AC circulating currents needed for the
operation. converter operation that could limit the use to low or medium
In some topologies [48], [50], the capacitors are charged range of transformation ratios.
connecting them in parallel across the low voltage DC bus and 2) DC Modular Based on Choppers
the power is released to the HV bus connecting them in series. Modular topologies based on the classical choppers have
Some other circuits create a low AC voltage on the LV DC been proposed for HVDC [57]–[60]. The principle is to replace
terminals and the voltage is stepped up charging several some of the switches on the original converters by MMC-SMs.
capacitors [23]. Alternative versions have been proposed in This replacement provides extended control features. An
[49] using different resonant cells. additional subdivision is proposed based on the employed
All multiple-stage resonant converters are proposed for high energy storage mechanism:
transformation ratios without having strong electrical stress on
the resonant elements, as it is the case of the single-stage a) Capacitive Accumulation Choppers
circuits. The main issue of these topologies is the uneven In these converters (Fig. 10a) the MMC-SMs are used as a
distribution of currents or voltages in the semiconductor variable capacitor for storing the energy. The principle is to
devices, making difficult to obtain a modular solution. charge and discharge the capacitors switching the SM stacks
C. DC Modular Topologies connection between the input and output DC terminals. The
topologies in [58] use series connected switching devices for
The circuits grouped in this sub-family adopt the fully this purpose. A dead time is required to accommodate the
modular approach of the MMC to the DC-DC conversion. Two number of inserted SMs according to the voltage level of the
trends are identified in literature: circuits which operation is DC terminal to be connected. The main converter valves are
similar to the MMC and those which operation principle is soft-switched whereas the SMs are hard-switched.
based on classical choppers.
1) DC Modular Multilevel (DC-MMC)
The so called DC-MMC converters (Fig. 9) [51]–[56] use
chains of MMC-SMs to generate currents and voltages at
different frequencies. Two superposed current loops are
created, one AC and one DC, and the operation principle is to
transfer the power between these loops as proposed in [52]. The
AC component is used for equilibrating the energy stored in the
SMs, and the DC component is used for power transfer between
the DC ports. To prevent the AC component from entering the
(a)
DC buses two techniques can be used: the use of passive filters
[52], [54], [55] or by control actions [51], [53], [56].
Concerning losses, these converters operate in hard-
switching but like the MMC at low switching frequency, so the

(b)
Fig. 10. Some DC-Modular Converters Based on Choppers. (a) Capacitive
accumulation [58], (b) Inductive accumulation [57], [60]

b) Inductive Accumulation Choppers


In these circuits (Fig. 10b) the SMs control the charge and
(a) (b)
discharge of a central inductor, used as storage element like in
a classical chopper. The converter operation can be done
Fig. 9. Some DC-MMCs. (a) AC current blocking with filters [52]. (b) AC
current blocking with control [53] creating a stair-case transition between the two states of the

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converter (inductor charging or discharging) [59], using certain limits HVDC transmission is a more economical
interleaved insertion of SMs to operate at resonance [60], or at alternative for those projects [2], this technology will be
resonant discontinuous-conduction mode [57]. Soft-switching predominant in the coming years for this application.
of the SMs can be achieved, but this causes AC circulating Concerning the offshore collection grid, two schemes are
currents increasing conduction losses [60]. A compromise possible: AC or DC (Fig. 12). In the first option a medium
should be made to obtain an optimal operation point. voltage AC grid is used to interconnect the wind turbines to the
These converters present modularity and are characterized by offshore AC-DC converter that interconnects the HVDC link.
a high voltage transformation ratio at low power. Their main In the case of a DC collector, a medium voltage DC grid is used
drawback is the large energy rating of the central inductor. and a DC-DC converter steps-up the voltage to the HVDC level.
This option could reduce the capital cost and increase the
IV. POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS efficiency of the farm [62].
A. HVDC Tapping
The possibility of tapping from HVDC lines is interesting to
interconnect small off-grid communities [10], [17], [48]. A
small amount of power is extracted from a HVDC line, without
perturbing the system, to provide electricity to load centers (a)
placed close to the line. The power needs vary from some
hundreds of kWs up to some tens of MWs and typically less
than 10% of the HVDC system rated power [10].
There are two connection schemes for this application that
can be implemented with DC-DC converters, series and parallel
(b)
(shunt) as presented in Fig. 11. In the first case the converter is
Fig. 12. Offshore windfarm simplified collection schemes, (a) AC Collector,
rated for the full HVDC current and acts as a variable voltage (b) DC Collector
source connected in series into the HVDC line. In the second The development of a suitable DC-DC converter is essential
configuration the converter is rated for full HVDC voltage for the implementation of such a scheme. The power
acting as a variable current source. Each configuration has its requirements vary according to the size of the farm, from
own advantages and drawbacks [10]. The studied DC-DC hundreds of MWs up to some GWs [61]. A medium to high
converters are more suitable for parallel tapping. transformation ratio is needed to step-up the MVDC level at the
collection grid to the HVDC level at the export line. Then, for
safety reasons, isolation will be required to protect the MV
collection grid.
Since the converter is placed on an offshore platform, size
becomes the key design parameter to be optimized. Other
TABLE II
(a) DC-DC CONVERTER REQUIREMENTS FOR EACH HVDC APPLICATION
DC-Collector
HVDC Grid
Parameter HVDC TAP for Offshore
Interconnection
Windfarm
Medium-
Step Ratio High Low
High
Power Rating Low High High
(b) Galvanic Yes, can be
Yes No
Fig. 11. HVDC Tapping, (a) Series TAP, (b) Parallel TAP Isolation done externally
Critical,
This application is characterized by a high transformation Weight /
Not critical
mainly
Not critical
ratio, therefore isolation is needed in order to protect the MV Footprint associated to
platform cost.
AC grid. However, the required DC-DC converter can be non-
Bi-directionality No, step-down No, step-up Yes
isolated if the voltage stepping is done inside the converter and
Monopolar,
an external transformer is added after the inverter stage to HVDC VSC Bipolar Bipolar,
Monopolar
provide the isolation. scheme Monopolar Both in the
The main requirements for a HVDC TAP DC-DC converter same converter
High, because Critical. Must
are presented in Table II, highlighting the cost as the most Availability/
Not critical to
high be as good as
keep low cost
critical one, due to the low return of investment of tapping low Reliability
solution
downtime the grids being
powers from an HV line. costs interconnected
Fault Blocking
Yes Yes Yes
B. Offshore Windfarm to HVDC capability
Target Cost Critical Non Critical Not critical
In recent years the power rating and distance to shore of
offshore wind farms has steadily grown [61]. Since above *The parameters in bold are the key ones to be consider for each application.

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important parameters are the efficiency to minimize the


transmission losses and the reliability due to the high cost of
repair operations offshore and the associated transmission
downtime. These requirements are summarized in Table II.
C. HVDC Grid Interconnection
HVDC VSC technology is considered as more suitable for
the development of meshed HVDC grids, however the type of
scheme has not been determined yet and several options exist:
bipole, symmetrical monopole and asymmetrical monopole can
be used, with different kinds of grounding [63].

Fig. 14. Potential converters for HVDC applications


detailed study made case by case and focusing in detail on each
converter is required. The proposed approach in this paper, on
Fig. 13. HVDC Grid interconnection
The construction of these grids is likely to be done in several the contrary, goes for a systemic point of view. This allows to
steps, starting with local small multi-terminal grids which might identify the potential converters for each application, giving a
later evolve into larger regional grids [3]. The lack of an HVDC starting point for a subsequent detailed study oriented to each
standardization and the time horizon of each project, makes that specific case.
the different HVDC grids have different characteristics and For this identification, it is proposed to take into account the
then DC-DC converters would be necessary for their voltage and power ratings plus the transformation ratio of each
interconnection. converter family as starting point, then a brief comparison of
This application exhibits low transformation ratio the different potential solutions is presented. The results of this
requirements. Therefore isolation is not required for safety, if identification process are presented in Fig. 14, highlighting the
the suitable converters have fault blocking capability. modular structures and those that need series connection of
Concerning the differences of the HVDC grid technologies, semiconductors. Then the main characteristics for each family
isolated structures can simplify the interconnection compared are summarized in Table III and Table IV.
to the non-isolated converters. However non-isolated circuits A. HVDC Tapping
can be used if they guarantee the interconnection during Two converter families have been identified for HVDC
nominal and fault states. tapping, none of them provide galvanic isolation. Concerning
Fault blocking capability is required in order to facilitate the bi-directionality, although both can work in step-down
protection of the grid, preventing the propagation of faults. In operation, for the Resonant Multi-Stage type circuits the recent
fact DC-DC converters can act as a firewall splitting a grid in research has been oriented to step-up applications.
different protection zones [64], avoiding the loss of the whole Regarding fault blocking capability, there is a lack of
grid when a fault appears. capability to block faults when they appear on the HV
In case of a DC fault, the behavior of a fault blocking terminals. The Resonant Multi-Stage circuits do not have this
converter can be of two types. It can enter in blocked state until feature while the Modular Inductive Choppers will need FB
the fault is cleared, or it can contribute to control the fault submodules, increasing cost. Nevertheless, in HVDC Tapping
current. In both cases the inductors present in the converter limit
TABLE III
the fault current rise until controller acts, blocking the converter CHARACTERISTICS OF POTENTIAL DC-DC CONVERTERS FOR HVDC TAPPING
or controlling the current. Modular Inductive
Because the shutdown of an HVDC transmission system will Parameter accumulation Resonant Multiple-Stage
generate an important impact on the electrical grid, reliability choppers
and fault blocking capability the converter are critical. These No, Step-up [23],[49],[50]
Bi-directionality Yes
No, Step-down [48]
requirements are highlighted in Table II. HVDC VSC
Monopolar / Bipolar Monopolar / Bipolar
scheme
V. POTENTIAL CONVERTERS FOR EACH APPLICATION Fault Blocking Yes if FB
No
when fault on HV submodules are used
The choice of a suitable topology for each application should Fault Blocking
Yes Yes
consider several aspects, such as power and voltage ratings, when fault on LV
voltage transformation ratio, losses, capital cost, size and - Not modular
- High energy
- Unequal distribution of
weight, isolation between DC ports, DC fault blocking Main drawback requirements on
current and voltages on
inductor
capability, reliability and redundancy, among others. Then, a switches

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it is more important to stop faults when they appear on the LV the isolation, is that both AC-DC stages are independent. Then,
side in order to prevent the loss of the main HV line. If HV-side each side can be designed individually, for example taking a
faults occur, AC circuit breakers can be used on the LV AC FB-MMC and a HB-MMC on each side can be used to
grid. interconnect one LCC and one VSC line [65]. In the same
The non-modularity of the Resonant Multi-Stage circuits manner the interconnection of bipole and monopole systems is
makes difficult a practical implementation. On the contrary, simplified [66].
Inductive Choppers, based on MMC SMs have a higher degree Their fault blocking capability is inherent. If both AC-DC
of industrial maturity. Nevertheless, the design of the required stages are blocked when a fault is detected the fault is stopped.
inductor and the potential cost of the converter are a limiting The presence of galvanic isolation can even facilitate the
factor. control of the fault current, in that case only the AC-DC stage
on the faulty side is blocked and the healthy side can still control
B. Offshore Windfarm to HVDC
the current fixing the AC voltage on the transformer.
From the potential converter families for this application All these advantages come at the cost of two full rated AC-
only the Cascaded DAB can provide galvanic isolation. If non- DC stages and the need of a bulky, high-power high-voltage
isolated circuits are used, a careful study must be done in order transformer. In order to reduce its size and decrease the SM
to guarantee the safety of the collection grid against the capacitor ratings MF operation could be necessary, adding
apparition of HV in case of a fault. complexity to the design of such a transformer.
Concerning fault blocking capability and step-up operation, As alternatives the non-isolated converters with fault
the Cascaded DAB has these characteristics inherently, the blocking capability seem interesting. Even with the lack of
Resonant Single-Stage solutions need a proper resonant tank galvanic isolation, these circuits can offer the required safety to
design, while the DC-MMCs, DC-Autotransformer, and stop the propagation of faults, and can even be used to
Modular Capacitive Accumulation Choppers need FB SMs. interconnect HVDC-VSC grids with different line topologies
The high transformation ratio and high power requirements [66]. Those circuits can even have a better utilization factor of
of this application represent a particular challenge for the design the semiconductors for low transformation ratios compared to
of a suitable converter due to the high currents on the LV side. the isolated structures [41].
The Cascaded DABs will need an IPOS configuration to From non-isolated circuits, the modular ones require FB SMs
share the current, then important insulation requirements are to fully accomplish the bi-directionality and fault blocking
expected for the AC transformers of the structure. This makes requirements for HVDC grid interconnection, increasing costs
a medium frequency design challenging, key for the required and losses. The Resonant Single Stage implementation seems
size reduction of offshore applications. less practical due to the lack of modularity and the required
The DC-MMCs operating at high ratios require considerable complex design of a HV high power resonant tank.
high AC circulating currents to balance the internal energy of
the converter, causing high conduction losses. In the same way, VI. CONCLUSION
the DC-Autotransformer loses its advantages at high ratios
because more power will transit on the AC side increasing the An overview of DC-DC converters dedicated to HVDC
power rating and the size of the AC transformer. applications has been presented. A classification of the different
circuits was proposed according to their structural similarities.
C. HVDC Grid Interconnection This helped to identify the main methods for achieving DC-DC
The suitable isolated DC-DC converters for the conversion in HVDC, highlighting the main advantages and
interconnection of two HVDC grids are different versions of the drawbacks of each proposition. In addition, the main HVDC
Modular Multilevel DAB. The advantage of these circuits, given applications for each family were identified.
TABLE IV
CHARACTERISTICS OF POTENTIAL DC-DC CONVERTERS FOR OFFSHORE DC WINDFARM TO HVDC, AND HVDC GRID INTERCONNECTION

Offshore DC to HVDC Grid


Offshore DC to HVDC - HVDC Grid interconnection
HVDC Interconnection
Modular Capacitive DC- Resonant Modular
Parameter Cascaded DABs DC-MMCs Accumulation Autotransformer Single-Stage Multilevel DAB
Choppers
Galvanic
Yes No No No No Yes
Isolation
Yes. Some circuits Yes. Require FB Yes Yes
Bi-directionality Yes require FB SMs for Yes SMs for step-up
step - up operation operation
HVDC VSC Monopolar / Monopolar / Monopolar Monopolar /
Monopolar / Bipolar Monopolar
scheme Bipolar Bipolar Bipolar
Fault Blocking Yes, requires FB Yes, requires FB Yes Yes
Yes Yes, requires FB SMs
capability SMs [58] SMs
Important AC circulating AC transformer - Requires Double
Insulation of the Requires series
Main drawbacks currents proportional to design and added series IGBTs conversion
transformer IGBTs
the transformation ratio weight - Tank design installed power

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