in , ,

High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Efficiency

High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Efficiency

As a homeowner seeking to reduce my electricity bills and minimize my carbon footprint, I have come to realize that the efficient and reliable transmission of electricity is vital to meet the ever-growing energy demand in an increasingly electrified world. It's fascinating to discover how High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission technology has emerged as a powerful solution to address the challenges posed by long-distance transmission and interconnecting asynchronous power systems.

What is High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC)?

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission is more efficient than alternating current (AC) transmission. This type of power transmission requires a high-diameter cable that reduces losses due to reactive power. Furthermore, HVDC is more environmentally friendly.

While this type of power transmission requires a large diameter cable, it's cheaper, more flexible, and requires fewer insulators and conductors.

Direct current (DC) is a form of electric energy that goes to zero every half-cycle. A circuit breaker can interrupt DC power with 1/20th the force of an AC circuit breaker.

Many modern electronic devices rely on DC current, such as transistors, which use the energy to power their internal components. Such devices include cell phones, computers, and television sets.

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission is more efficient than alternating current ( AC) transmission. The main benefit of HVDC over AC transmission is that it has lower line losses and requires fewer substations to correct power quality.

Furthermore, the technology is cost-effective over a distance of 250 miles. The efficiency of HVDC transmission is also an advantage, especially for offshore wind farms.

While AC and HVDC are equally effective, HVDC is better for the environment. The latter allows for more energy per square metre and over longer distances.

It is also more efficient because it uses less space than AC. Furthermore, HVDC reduces carbon footprint by half. This is due to the fact that it transfers only active power. In contrast, AC transmission has high losses due to its induction of reactive energy.

In addition, HVDC transmission allows power to be transferred between separate AC networks. It also improves system controllability, making it a better option for long-distance transmission.

With these benefits, HVDC will be a necessary part of global renewable energy solutions. It will seamlessly integrate renewable energy into existing power infrastructures. Ultimately, it will make renewable energy more accessible.

How does HVDC Work?

high voltage direct current power transmission (HVDC) is a technology used to transmit electrical power over long distances with minimal losses. It is an efficient and reliable method of transferring electricity between large power grids or connecting remote power sources to demand centers. HVDC systems convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC) for transmission and then convert it back to AC at the receiving end. Let's explore how HVDC works in more detail:


HVDC systems start with an AC generator, typically in a power station. The AC power is first converted into DC using a device called a rectifier. The rectifier consists of power electronic devices, such as thyristors or Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs), which control the flow of electricity and convert the sinusoidal AC voltage into a smooth DC voltage.


Once the AC power is converted into DC, it is transmitted over dedicated HVDC transmission lines. These lines are typically high-voltage cables that can span great distances. Unlike AC transmission lines, HVDC cables have lower losses over long distances, making them more efficient for interconnecting distant power grids or offshore wind farms.


At the receiving end of the HVDC transmission line, the DC power is converted back to AC using an inverter. The inverter is another power electronic device that converts the smooth DC voltage back into an AC voltage with the desired frequency and voltage level.


Before connecting the HVDC system to the receiving power grid, the frequency and phase of the generated AC power must be synchronized with the existing grid. This step ensures a smooth integration of the HVDC power with the AC grid without causing any disruptions.

High-voltage direct current

It requires a large-diameter cable

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems have several important factors to consider in a high-diameter cable. For example, the high voltage required by the system affects the design of the conductor, as the thickness of the insulation layer is inversely proportional to the testing voltage and the diameter of the cable conductor.

The Cigre testing protocol recommends an insulation layer thickness of 27 mm. Because this layer occupies a significant portion of the cross section of the cable, it is worth minimizing.

One solution is the use of a “warm dielectric,” which is known for its low cost and long lifespan in electricity grids. The outer cryostat of a thermal shield is typically greater than 150 mm in diameter.

This solution is not suitable for Best Paths due to the difficulty of extruding large diameter cables. However, flexible cryogenic lines with thermal shields have been developed and are now commercially available.

AC and HVDC transmissions require large diameter cables to deliver high-voltage electricity, but the average and peak voltages and currents are similar. AC transmission wastes about 30% of its carrying capacity, while HVDC utilizes 100%.

HVAC also has a wider right-of-way than HVDC transmission. But there are some differences between the two. One major factor is the type of conductor used.

Another important factor is the frequency. High-voltage DC is characterized by a low frequency. While HVDC is less efficient than AC, it does have a low frequency.

AC transmissions are susceptible to inductive loss. The high-voltage cable used for HVDC transmissions will not have these losses. It is also possible to use the same cable for both AC and HVDC systems.

It reduces reactive power losses

In a utility, the concept of voltage control is crucial to maintain system stability. In addition to active power, a portion of the supply must be reactive to meet changing demands while maintaining acceptable voltages throughout the system.

The reactive power component of current is generated by the operation of loads. The amount of reactive power generated by a given load is influenced by everything that occurs on its way from generator to customer. Reactive power loss can occur due to transmission lines, which act as capacitors on the way from the generator to the load.

Reactive power is needed to operate many electrical devices, such as motors, but the excessive amount of energy is harmful to the electrical infrastructure and motorized loads.

Reactive current flows through resistive components in the electrical system, dissipating energy in the form of heat. This energy would otherwise be lost, as it is not converted into useful work. In addition, reducing reactive power losses means that electric bills will be lower.

Reactive power introduced by transmission lines can cause big voltage drops during peak hours, affecting the overall reliability of the system. high voltage direct current transmission system lines introduce inductive reactive power and low-voltage lines incur capacitive reactive power.

The power flow Sk on a given line is shown in Figure 1. The higher the transmission power, the greater the proportion of reactive power introduced by each line. This value varies based on the voltage, but a 400 kV line introduces about 32% of total transmitted power.

Depending on the construction parameters, the percentage may differ from 28% to 32%.

The benefits of a HVDC system are numerous. The system is more cost-effective, as it reduces reactive power losses while increasing active power. A typical HVDC system consists of two converters, each requiring a specific amount of power.

In addition, each converter has an optimum DC side equilibrium voltage, which controls the flow of DC current. The resulting system is highly efficient, but there is a high risk of harmonic generation.

It is more environmentally friendly

The benefits of HVDC are far reaching, but the most obvious one is its economic value. This type of energy transmission system supports the profitability goals of power plants, utilities, renewable generation owners, and grid operators.

And because of its efficiency, HVDC helps accelerate the transition to a more renewable energy future with cleaner, cheaper power. Patrick Pla, GE Energy Connections' general manager of HVDC and grid solutions, explains:

Another advantage of HVDC over conventional AC transmission technology is that the system is far more environmentally friendly. HVDC uses two conductors instead of one, which lowers visual impact. This technology also allows for greater power flow over the same ROW without suffering from EMF effects.

HVDC technology enables the construction of more power transmission lines in a more efficient way. The environment is also healthier, and HVDC is much more efficient than AC.

Currently, AC is the primary form of electricity transmission and distribution. However, as new sources of energy and smart devices come online, the demand for electric transmission networks increases.

Therefore, utilities are exploring HVDC conversion potential as an effective solution. It allows power transmission across long distances while minimizing energy losses. HVDC can operate at power levels of over 100 megawatts. And its power potential can extend to 1,000 to 3,000 megawatts.

Although the US has a limited number of HVDC transmission lines, these systems are not designed to enable renewable development. Consequently, the U.S. is far from achieving the integrated nationwide HVDC network needed to achieve net-zero emissions.

Where to Obtain HVDC Technology

HVDC technology has seen rapid advancement over the years, and several industry-leading companies are at the forefront of developing and implementing these cutting-edge systems. If you are considering obtaining HVDC solutions to meet your power transmission needs, here's a detailed overview of some key players in the market:

ABB Group

The ABB Group is a trailblazer in HVDC technology, boasting a rich history of successful HVDC projects worldwide. With decades of experience, ABB offers a wide array of HVDC products and solutions tailored to various transmission requirements. Their expertise covers everything from interconnecting power grids over long distances to facilitating the integration of renewable energy sources into existing networks. ABB's solutions emphasize efficiency, reliability, and grid stability, making them a go-to choice for major power transmission projects.

Siemens Energy

Siemens Energy is another major player in the HVDC market, renowned for providing state-of-the-art HVDC solutions for efficient and reliable long-distance power transmission. The company's technological prowess and global presence allow them to offer a comprehensive range of HVDC systems suitable for various applications. Siemens Energy excels in developing innovative converter technologies, enabling the seamless integration of HVDC systems into existing power infrastructures while maximizing energy efficiency.

General Electric (GE)

General Electric (GE) is a global leader in the power transmission industry, and they bring their expertise to bear in offering a diverse portfolio of HVDC systems. GE's HVDC solutions cater to the diverse needs of the energy industry, including interconnecting remote power sources, supporting grid stability, and facilitating the transfer of electricity over extensive distances. Their advanced HVDC technologies are designed to meet the demands of modern power networks, providing enhanced control and operational flexibility.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids

A collaboration between Hitachi and ABB, Hitachi ABB Power Grids combines the strengths of both entities to deliver innovative and sustainable HVDC solutions. With a focus on technological advancement and sustainability, Hitachi ABB Power Grids addresses the evolving challenges of power transmission. They offer a wide range of HVDC products, including high-capacity transmission systems and solutions to optimize grid performance and reduce environmental impact.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation is a renowned name in the power and energy industry, offering advanced HVDC technologies that align with the requirements of modern power transmission networks. Leveraging their expertise and technological advancements, Toshiba delivers HVDC solutions optimized for efficiency, reliability, and ease of integration. Their systems support long-distance power transmission and facilitate the stable integration of renewable energy sources, contributing to a sustainable energy future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Efficiency

What is HVDC, and how does it differ from traditional AC transmission?

HVDC stands for High-Voltage Direct Current, a method of transmitting electrical power over long distances using direct current. Unlike traditional AC transmission, which uses alternating current, HVDC transmits electricity in a unidirectional manner, reducing resistive and reactive losses over long-distance transmission lines.

How does HVDC achieve higher efficiency compared to AC transmission?

HVDC achieves higher efficiency by reducing transmission losses caused by resistance and reactive power. The conversion from AC to DC and back is done using power electronic devices, resulting in minimal energy wastage during long-distance transmission.

What are the advantages of HVDC transmission?

HVDC transmission offers several advantages, including enhanced transmission efficiency, interconnection of asynchronous power systems, grid stabilization, and lower environmental impact. These benefits make HVDC a preferred choice for long-distance and renewable energy transmission.

Can HVDC technology stabilize power grids and prevent blackouts?

Yes, HVDC technology plays a crucial role in stabilizing power grids and preventing blackouts. HVDC links can rapidly control power flow and help stabilize the grid during sudden disturbances, ensuring grid reliability.

How does HVDC facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources?

HVDC enables the efficient transmission of renewable energy from remote locations with varying frequencies to areas with high energy demands. By interconnecting asynchronous power systems, HVDC helps integrate renewable energy sources into the grid, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

What are the environmental benefits of HVDC transmission?

HVDC transmission contributes to environmental conservation by enabling the transmission of renewable energy over long distances. The lower transmission losses result in less energy wastage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental impact.

Where can I find HVDC solutions for my power transmission needs?

Several reputable companies offer HVDC solutions, including ABB Group, Siemens Energy, General Electric (GE), Hitachi ABB Power Grids, and Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation. You can consult with these companies to find the most suitable HVDC solution for your specific requirements.

Can HVDC be used for underwater power transmission?

Yes, HVDC is well-suited for underwater power transmission. HVDC submarine cables are used to transmit electricity across bodies of water, such as between continents or islands, where traditional AC transmission would be less efficient or challenging.

Is HVDC cost-effective compared to traditional AC transmission

While HVDC systems may have higher initial costs due to the required power electronic converters, they offer long-term cost benefits through reduced transmission losses and more efficient power transmission over long distances.

What are the future prospects of HVDC technology?

HVDC technology continues to evolve and is expected to play a crucial role in the global energy transition. As renewable energy integration becomes more critical, HVDC is likely to see increased adoption, further enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of power transmission.


As a homeowner seeking to reduce my electricity bills and minimize my carbon footprint, exploring the world of High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission technology has been an eye-opening experience. Understanding the efficiency and benefits of HVDC has shown me how critical it is to prioritize energy-efficient solutions not only within my home but also on a larger scale in the global energy landscape.

HVDC's ability to address the challenges of long-distance transmission and interconnecting asynchronous power systems is truly impressive. Its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and reduced environmental impact make it a powerful solution for the increasing demand for energy in our electrified world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Avatar photo

Written by Keith

The Benefits of a High Efficiency Converter

Electric Power Efficiency and Losses