Europe rolls out first medium voltage direct current link  

May 17, 2017 //By Nick Flaherty
Sub-station in Bangor for Europe's first MVDC distribution system
GE Energy Connections is building Europe’s first medium voltage direct current (MVDC) link in the UK.

Using DC distribution links have been growing in popularity around the world, providing more control of the power flow, reactive power and voltage support, as well as minimizing network losses. This is increasingly important with more variable renewable energy sources such as wind and tidal power. 

The four year Angle-DC project is supporting the transfer of renewable power between Anglesey and Mainland North Wales by converting the existing 33kV AC link to 27kV DC. This conversion will also help with the thermal management of the network, avoiding cables and equipment overheating at peak power levels. The link currently carries up to 80MW and that is set to double by 2020, but some of the cables are several kilometres long and 40 years old.

“As electricity demand and the connection of renewable generation continues to grow, the existing network infrastructure struggles to cope and additional reinforcement becomes necessary,” said Kevin Smith, Future Networks Lead Engineer at lead operator Scottish Power Energy Networks. “The Angle-DC project, being the first of its kind, will hopefully demonstrate that using MVDC on existing assets can be a more innovative alternative to simply building more substations along with the connecting underground cables and overhead lines.”

GE’s Power Conversion AC-DC converters will be located at a 33kV substation in Bangor (above) and at a similar substation on the Isle of Anglesey. The 12 MV7000 converters at each substation will convert 33 kVac to ±27kVdc using the existing AC lines between the two substations.

GE will also be including VISOR 2.0, an asset management tool that provides remote connectivity to improve service responsiveness, and Data Historian, a data management software that allows data collection, processing and storage, as part of the installation. This ability to capture and analyze data will allow SP Energy Networks to review the capabilities of the MVDC system and gather insights to develop optimum control algorithms for the distribution system.

“GE has extensive experience in energy transmission technology and proven track records including electrifying the central European railways,” said Matt Cunningham, sales director for GE Power Conversion. “We are excited to be involved, applying our technology know-how based on our previous experience, at a time when many countries are considering how to future proof their existing infrastructure without significant upheaval,”

Sascha Heinecke, industry segment leader, GE’s Power Conversion, added: “The project is first of its kinds in the UK and Europe. This is a significant step forward in the power transmission and distribution segment. With the deployment of digital tools such as Visor and Historian, the success of this project could impact how grids across the world are future-proofed.”

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