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Swiss UHVDC tech to develop world leading 1,670km hydropower link in China

ABB wins $150m transformer order for ultra-high-voltage direct current power link to supply hydropower from southwest to east coast of China

The converter transformers for the UHVDC link will enable the supply of hydropower across China

Swiss transformer technology is being used to develop the world's highest power link to supply hydropower across China. Leading power firm ABB, which has headquarters based in Switzerland, has won an order worth around USD 150m to supply converter transformers, DC (direct current) filter capacitors and key components for converter valves for the 1,670km-long ultra-high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) power link. It will run from Southwest China to the country's east coast.

Once completed in 2014, the 8,000MW Xiluodu-Zhexi link will be capable of transmitting the energy equivalent of eight large power plants and supplying 40 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year – enough to meet the needs of over 11 million Chinese consumers. The use of renewable hydropower will help avoid combustion of more than 12 million metric tonnes of coal, reducing potential carbon emissions by about 34 million tonnes annually.

The 800-kilovolt (kV) UHVDC transmission connection will transport clean hydropower over a distance of 1,670km, from Yibin in Sichuan province in southwest China to Zhejiang province on the east coast. ABB's scope of supply for the project includes converter transformers, DC filter capacitors and key components. Transformers are essential parts of an electrical grid, enabling the efficient and safe conversion of electricity between different voltage systems. As part of the transmission process, converter transformers provide a critical interface between the DC link and the alternating current (AC) network.

Bernhard Jucker, head of ABB's Power Products division, said: "We are pleased to continue supporting China's efforts to build one of the most extensive and advanced power networks in the world. This order augments our significant track record in the country and supports our strong local footprint in terms of engineering, manufacturing and R&D."

UHVDC transmission is a development of high voltage direct current (HVDC). ABB said it represents the "biggest capacity and efficiency leap in more than two decades." UHVDC transmission is increasingly being deployed in geographically sizeable countries such as China where energy is consumed far from its source. By making it possible to transmit power, especially from renewables, over long distances, ABB said UHVDC reduces dependency on fossil fuels and curbs potential carbon dioxide emissions.

ABB is a world leader in HVDC transmission technology. The company has developed around 90 HVDC projects around the world with a combined transmission capacity of approximately 95,000MW.