ABB solves century-old electric engineering problem

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ABB claims it has solved a century-old engineering problem, paving the way for a more efficient and reliable electricity supply system.

ABB has announced a breakthrough in the ability to interrupt direct current with the "world's first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC)," which 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 -- 30 times faster than the blink of an eye.

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.

The breakthrough will enable the efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy, as well as improve grid reliability and enhance the capability of existing AC networks.

Overlay DC grids will be able to interconnect countries and continents, balance loads and reinforce the existing AC transmission networks, according to ABB.

ABB is currently in discussions with utilities to identify pilot projects for the new development.

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