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  • 26 March 2019 18:27

HVDC Transmission Systems are being Chosen over HVAC Systems in Australia & New Zealand

Performance limitations of high voltage alternating current power transmission for long distances, and government initiatives aimed towards the security of power generation and transmission in Australia and New Zealand through modernization of HVDC infrastructure are major factors influencing the growth of the market.

The Australian National Electricity landscape is comprised of 5 major states in the country, including South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales, and Victoria, and this system makes use of one of the world’s longest High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) power transmission systems around the globe. This transmission system has been found to be relatively weak, owing to regular congestions, and high loss of power during transmission processes, which are adversely affecting the country’s interstate energy trading space.

Thereby, to offset the effects of such losses, infrastructure for interconnections for existing systems such as those between Queensland and New South Wales are being integrated with high voltage direct current voltage source converters (HVDC-VSC) to reduce oscillations in performance and boost stability limits of the HVAC interconnection.

The north and south islands of New Zealand connected with sea-floor electric cables across the Cook Strait from Benmore power station to Wellington, is a key part of the country’s HVDC link. This project is still New Zealand’s largest power generation projects generating approximately 10 percent of the country’s power, and is considered to be one of the most advanced HVDC projects in the world.

Modernization and Maintenance of Power Transmission Links Create New Opportunities

HVDC systems are long range power transmission systems and as such are highly cost- and material-intensive in terms of infrastructure. This has resulted in steady demand for HVDC components and equipment in Australia and New Zealand for the purposes of infrastructure maintenance and modernization. This is likely to create lucrative opportunities for HVDC systems manufacturers in the foreseeable future.

For instance, Transpower New Zealand Ltd has contracted Switzerland based ABB to upgrade its existing HVDC link connecting the country’s North and South islands. The ABB’s AbilityTM MACH control system is anticipated to be an essential aspect of this modernization drive. The project is slated to involve upgrading vital components including capacitors, valve control units, and fiber optics, to improve reliability, power security and reducing the environmental impact of the project. Furthermore, the AbilityTM MACH control system is claimed to boost calculation capabilities, fault registration, integration and operation of protection and control functionalities, and also include remote control abilities.

ABB also won a contract worth $ 30 million from the Australian government in 2018 for upgrading two vital HVDC links in the country – Murraylink and Directlink which connect South Australia and Victoria, and New South Wales and Queensland respectively. The AbilityTM MACH control system is expected to be an essential aspect of the modernization process here as well.

Australia’s Integrated System Plan to Boost Adoption of HVDC

Developed by Australia’s Energy Market Operator, the Integrated System Plan is defined based on engineering and sequenced investments in the national transmission system. The system designed to identify and implement the most resource-effective methods to modernize Australia’s electricity grid for future needs.

Towards this end, physical designs and system capacities are projected to play essential roles in the determination of price points. In consequence of this, a renewable centric power grid is projected to gain more benefits from the adoption of HVDC transmission systems instead of HVAC transmission systems.

Plans to Drive Renewable Energy Exports May Bolster HVDC Adoption

At present, Australia is one of the best places in the world to harvest wind and solar power sources. HVDC interconnectors from the Australian National Electricity landscape to countries such as Indonesia is projected to be economically feasible, and is projected to be able to make both countries use 100 per cent of renewable energy for their transmission systems in upcoming decades.

The high costs of building such infrastructure are projected to be largely offset by significant savings made in electricity production costs and climate change prevention initiatives set up by the government, especially with an expected reduction of HVDC technology costs in the near future.

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