UHVDC valve hall

India builds power superhighway to ease city shortages

ABB is to deliver an ultra-high-voltage transmission system in northern India with a record capacity of 8,000MW.

The link will supply hydro-power from north-eastern India to the city of Agra over a distance of 1,728km.

Power Grid Corporation of India chose ABB for the North-East Agra transmission project together with BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited), a leading Indian government-owned power company.

The two companies will be responsible for system engineering, design, supply and installation of three HVDC converter stations, in a turnkey project worth more than £675m.

The first stage of the system is scheduled to be operational in 2014 and the second stage in 2015.

The ultrahigh-voltage direct current (UHVDC) link operating at ±800kV will have a converter capacity of 8,000MW, the highest ever built.

This will be the world’s first UHVDC link with three converter stations: Two ‘sending’ stations will convert power from AC to DC for transmission over a single power line to the third, ‘receiving’ station in Agra, where it will be converted back into AC for distribution to end users.

A multi-terminal solution is considerably cheaper than running separate power links from multiple hydro-power plants to Agra.

India plans to create a number of power pooling points in the north-eastern region, which has abundant hydro-power resources scattered over a large area, and transport the electricity to major load centres hundreds or thousands of kilometres away.

HVDC is a very efficient way to use the available right-of-way, which passes through the so-called ‘chicken neck’ or Siliguri Corridor, a very narrow patch of land (22km wide and18km long) in the state of West Bengal bordered by Nepal on one side and Bangladesh on the other.

The current project is the first of those planned, with pooling points at Biswanath Chariali in the state of Assam and Alipurduar in West Bengal.

When operating at full capacity, the link will be able to supply enough electricity to serve 90 million people based on average national consumption, and will help ease the increasing power shortages in northern India. Using ultra-high-voltage minimises transmission losses and improves efficiency.

BHEL’s share of the order, at £220m, is the largest it has ever received in the transmission and distribution sector. In recent years the company has enhanced its annual transformer manufacturing capacity to 45,000 MVA to remain India’s biggest manufacturer of transformers.

ABB was responsible for overall system design and supplied the main equipment for the world’s first UHVDC transmission link, which went into commercial operation in China in 2010.

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