HVDC: how to transmit high voltage energy in long distance in Europe and all over the world.

HVDC is the acronym for High Voltage Direct Current, an electricity transmission system that uses direct current, rather than the more frequently used alternating current. Due to its ability to linearly transfer energy across large distances, using both overhead power lines and undersea cables, direct current is a management characteristic of growing interest for Transmission System Operators, the main national operators of high-voltage electricity in Europe and all over the world.

Consequently, many energy systems employees attended the international conference AEIT on HVDC technology, “Operational Experience and Technological Development for Application Worldwide”.

Advancements in technology now make HVDC technology more reliable and easier to implement, and in many cases, financially convenient. In fact, this interest was confirmed by the high turnout at the conference of large TSOs such as Terna, REE and RTE, industry sector companies like ABB, Prysmian Group, GE-PowerElectronics, Siemens and RKHK, as well as research centres such as RSE, consultancy agencies like CESI and scientific universities. The AEIT (Italian Association of Electrical, Electronics, Automation, Information and Communication Technology) is a cultural organisation that aims to promote and encourage studies in the electrical sciences, automation, the development of related technologies and applications and, with events such as the conference in Florence, supports the cultural growth and professional development of its members.

The conference was opened by Luigi Michi, Manager of Strategies, Development and Dispatch for Terna. In his capacity as Italian CIGRE President, he represented the main challenges related to energy transition, which entail the creation of a set of essential, coordinated and consistent actions.

The key is to develop a new approach for planning and managing power systems. A new method that requires strong scientific contribution and close collaboration from all actors involved (academic world, industry, the TSO itself).

Luigi Michi, Head of Strategy, Development and System Operation for Terna

One of the most important challenges is undoubtedly represented by investments in the National Transmission Grid and in cross-border interconnections, intended to strengthen the meshing of the grid and reduce congestion. These interventions are often in synergy with the requirements of suitability, given that in many cases they also bring benefits in terms of integration with sources of renewable energy. Another of the tasks to be taken on is to identify correct long-term price indicators in order to build or convert new generation systems (flexible and efficient gas systems to replace the more obsolete and polluting heat capacity), via mechanisms such as the capacity market.

Particular attention was paid to developing further storage capacity. Suitably identified, this capacity will contribute to guaranteeing the minimisation of “over generation” during maximum solar generation, thus providing excellent services due to the high flexibility of these systems and contributing to the adequacy of the system.

Photograph from the HVDC international conference, attended by Luigi Michi, second from the left (photo by Terna)

In this context, technological evolution should be considered an integral element. And HVDC technology in particular plays an absolutely fundamental role in this field as one of key facilitators of energy transition. The development of the Italian electricity system is a clear and obvious example of this.

The events began with a quick international overview by Massimo Rebolini of the role of direct current transmission in the decarbonization process. Over the two days of events, Terna presented twelve scientific papers at the convention’s six sessions, the result of collaboration with the worlds of academia and industry.

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