How A lot HVDC Transmission Is There Now, Coming, & The place?



Join every day information updates from CleanTechnica on e mail. Or comply with us on Google Information!

One of many huge levers for decarbonizing our international vitality is by connecting continent-scale grids with high-voltage direct present transmission (HVDC). We’ve been doing numerous that already, however much more is deliberate. There are about 200 GW of HVDC cables stretching 58,000 kilometers in operation at present, and about 180 GW deliberate stretching about 45,000 kilometers in planning and development. The massive majority of what’s in operation is in China, in fact.

Let’s begin with the why. As delayers like to say, the wind doesn’t blow on a regular basis and the solar doesn’t shine on a regular basis. However go north, south, east, and west just a few hundred or a few thousand kilometers, and the climate is totally completely different. We’ll be overbuilding renewables in one of the best locations and connecting them to the very best demand facilities like main cities, ports and industrial websites. The solar might not shine brightly throughout peak demand intervals of the late afternoon and early night, however it’s shining brightly a few time zones or extra to the west.

However conventional transmission utilizing high-voltage alternating present (HVAC) loses numerous vitality over longer distances, and much more if you must go underwater or underground with the cables. HVDC loses loads much less vitality over nice distance, underwater, and underground, about 3% for each 1,000 kilometers. That’s probably the most environment friendly mechanism for transmitting vitality we’ve found.

It’s so efficient and so environment friendly that it’s arduous to maintain up with the entire tasks. Enter RTE Worldwide, a consultancy and engineering firm whose actions cowl all areas of electrical energy transmission. They preserve observe, as greatest as they’re in a position, of all present and deliberate HVDC tasks globally. They publish updates as a part of their month-to-month HVDC publication, one thing I’ve been receiving and digging by for some time now.

An enormous a part of the publication are the large tables of all present and deliberate HVDC tasks. I’ve been it for some time and wishing I might do some fundamental evaluation on it. After a fast dialog with the folks at RTE accountable, I pushed it by a PDF to spreadsheet converter, cleaned up the information, made some guesses and began doing a little cross tabs.

I’ve chosen to simplify some issues within the course of, and make some selections about what the information signifies. That signifies that some issues have develop into much less correct. For instance, the RTE information set consists of the lengths of a particular mission which can be underground, subsea, or on overhead strains (OHL), and plenty of tasks mix all three for various parts of the route. I’ve simplified {that a} bit, so any cable with a subsea section is represented as all subsea for instance. It’s imperfect, however I’m serious about gross numbers.

Equally, the RTE information has the variety of strains of all completely different sizes, and I’ve chosen to separate that into complete energy and the variety of strains, making the idea that future tasks with solely the ability have just one line. That’s inaccurate I’m positive, however the errors are understood. Equally, the place no energy in MW was expressed or distance in kilometers was listed, I put in guesses. Lastly, the place future dates weren’t listed, I selected 2030 to have some information within the combine.

All of that information ‘cleaning’ signifies that any errors are probably mine. That mentioned, RTE’s information isn’t good. I’m conscious of quite a few present and deliberate HVDC interconnectors within the ASEAN area, most to and from Singapore, however they’re lacking from the information at current. There’s an rising ASEAN supergrid that I’m paying some consideration to which seems to be off of RTE’s radar. And as I came upon whereas engaged on this evaluation and writing as I went, it seems to be lacking numerous information from China.

Locations of current, planned and in construction HVDC projects globally from Open Street Maps

Areas of present, deliberate and in development HVDC tasks globally from Open Road Maps

Wikipedia maintains a checklist of the HVDC operational tasks and a few deliberate tasks, and somebody kindly pushed the information into Open Road Maps to create this visualization. It leaves some questions open. For at present’s effort, I principally didn’t attempt to combine Wikipedia’s information with RTE’s and resolve the overlap.

However RTE’s information did permit me to ask just a few questions I’d been questioning about. The present and future GW and kilometers listed within the opening paragraph, mixed with China’s information set from Wikipedia, was certainly one of them.

One other query was the breadth query. Do not forget that the intent of transmission is to deliver electrical energy from the place it occurs to be generated to the place it’s wanted. As such, future tasks would moderately be anticipated to have each an extended transmission size and be extra prone to join international locations.

And that’s true. Even with my alternative to make use of 100 kilometers because the size for tasks with none size information (all future), the common size of future tasks is about double historic tasks — 454 kilometers vs 229 kilometers. (The shortage of numerous China’s operational information in RTE’s information cuts these numbers down loads.) HVDC tasks of the longer term are operating a lot additional than historic tasks, not less than outdoors of China. Considerably surprisingly, present tasks aren’t essentially connecting international locations greater than historic tasks as a ratio. A couple of quarter by energy of the tasks was traditionally flowing between international locations, and that’s true for future tasks as effectively.

After all, there’s a purpose for this. The vast majority of all operational tasks and a fifth of future HVDC on the earth is in China, about 170 GW present and 27 GW deliberate or below development. China’s an enormous nation, the third largest on the earth by land mass and barely bigger than quantity 4 on the checklist, the US. The USA has a few GW of HVDC at present, about 2% of the worldwide complete, and a 35 GW deliberate per RTE.

I cross-checked towards the Wikipedia information set, and located much more Chinese language tasks than the RTE information has. Wikipedia has 55 HVDC strains within the nation, whereas RTE solely exhibits 18 between operational and future tasks. All 55 are operational per Wikipedia, which has completely different imperfections than RTE’s information, in fact. However assuming that Wikipedia information is extra appropriate for operational Chinese language HVDC, and RTE’s information is extra correct for the remainder of the world and future tasks, the nation has greater than the remainder of the world mixed, which was my assumption going into this evaluation train.

Assuming RTE is extra proper for the remainder of the world than it’s for China (a reasonably protected assumption), then the whole HVDC globally is about 200 GW completely, with 72% of that inside China, and the whole present size of HVDC is about 58,000 kilometers, with 86% of that inside China.

It’s taken me a very long time to seek out analysts who learn Mandarin and comply with China’s vitality development from the within by studying the nation’s reviews in their very own language, and I’ve had conversations with worldwide specialists like Bent Flyvbjerg concerning the challenges. No flies on RTE if their China information is much less full. And, in fact, the USA is the nation of aspirations, so I believe much less of that future HVDC can be accomplished as a median. However it could make sense for RTE’s folks to cross-check with Wikipedia and cut back the disparity on condition that they’re pushing their HVDC information set out month-to-month.

The purpose of that’s that China and the USA having a 3rd of the deliberate HVDC energy between them signifies that continent-scale grids are being constructed, simply inside international locations which can be the dimensions of continents. China’s common operational size is about 1,300 kilometers per Wikipedia, whereas its future size of cables is about 1,400 per RTE. The variance is much more excessive for the USA, with a median of operational cables of 63 kilometers vs a future mission common of 420 kilometers (all RTE numbers).

There have been another issues I anticipated the information to indicate. HVDC has been traditionally used to hyperlink grids collectively. Operational grids have a rhythm, the beats per second that the present alternates, sometimes 50 or 60 instances a second. HVDC has no rhythm because it doesn’t alternate. That makes it an ideal device to attach two grids in order that they will share electrical energy with out having to synchronize their beats per second that are both merely misaligned by a fraction of a second, or have a unique beats per second fully. That’s known as back-to-back HVDC connections and it’s normally accomplished on the geographical level the place the grids meet, so the space of the linkage is zero.

I anticipated that operational HVDC programs would have the next proportion of back-to-back HVDC connections than future grids, and RTE information does present this. Traditionally, about 18% of HVDC operational programs by energy had been back-to-back, however sooner or later solely about 3% of deliberate programs are back-to-back. As a notice, previously vs future size evaluation above, I eliminated the zero distance back-to-back connections.

I additionally anticipated extra future tasks to be subsea, and even with China’s huge in-country tasks excluded, about 5% extra of future tasks are subsea. That’s one other indication of connecting international locations versus being inside them.

HVDC being the brand new pipeline continues to be supported by this. As we glance all over the world, HVDC tasks are booming in every single place. The aluminum that they’re fabricated from is the commonest component within the earth’s crust, and new HVDC factories are being constructed on a number of continents. They’re transferring TWh of renewable electrical energy throughout 1000’s of kilometers at present, and can be carrying vastly extra sooner or later. Nations which proceed to concentrate on transferring molecules for vitality are going to be left behind.


Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Need to promote? Need to recommend a visitor for our CleanTech Speak podcast? Contact us right here.

EV Obsession Each day!

I do not like paywalls. You do not like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Right here at CleanTechnica, we applied a restricted paywall for some time, however it all the time felt improper — and it was all the time powerful to determine what we must always put behind there. In idea, your most unique and greatest content material goes behind a paywall. However then fewer folks learn it!! So, we have determined to fully nix paywalls right here at CleanTechnica. However…

Like different media corporations, we want reader assist! For those who assist us, please chip in a bit month-to-month to assist our staff write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech tales a day!


Tesla Gross sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030



CleanTechnica makes use of affiliate hyperlinks. See our coverage right here.


Supply hyperlink

What do you think?

Written by TechWithTrends

Leave a Reply

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

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings


OnePlus introduces a stunning Photo voltaic Crimson coloration variant, however there is a catch


Trade’s Smallest Buck Regulator Modules