ABB wins $30m contract to upgrade critical HVDC links

Murrylink HVDC converter station

ABB has won an order to replace the control and protection systems for two vital high-voltage transmission links in Australia.

The $30 million order will modernise the Murraylink and Directlink high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission links with the latest ABB Ability MACH control system.

“We are delighted to implement our latest MACH control technology to replace these important HVDC transmission links,” ABB Power Grids division president Claudio Facchin said.

“The project reiterates our strategic focus on service and digital technologies and reinforces our HVDC market and technology leadership, as a partner of choice for enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”

The replacement of the control and protection systems will further improve power and grid reliability, while also extending the life spans.

The Directlink transmission system was commissioned in 2000 and marked the first interconnection of the regional electricity markets of the Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland.

Two years later, the 180km Murraylink transmission system became the world’s longest underground HVDC power transmission system when it was put into service, connecting the states of South Australia and Victoria.

Underground cables were chosen for Murraylink instead of overhead transmission lines to minimise visual and environmental impact.

The cables were drilled under the Murray River, road and rail crossings and a number of significant Indigenous Australian heritage sites.

Both Directlink and Murraylink are based on HVDC technology that ABB pioneered more than 60 years ago.

In HVDC, the alternating-current (AC) power used by the utility grid is converted to direct current (DC) for transmission; a more efficient way of transporting large amounts of electricity over long distances with minimum losses.

ABB will carry out the upgrades for APA Group, which manages Directlink and Murraylink facilities owned by Energy Infrastructure Investments (EII).

Central to the upgrade of both links is the installation of the latest ABB Ability MACH control and protection solution, which acts like the brain of the HVDC transmission system.

By monitoring, controlling and protecting the sophisticated technology in the converter stations, the system ensures reliability and efficiency, along with remote-control functions to ensure power security.