Swiss technology company ABB has secured an order to upgrade Transpower, New Zealand’s high-voltage direct current (HVDC) link that interconnects the transmission grids of the North and South islands.

Said to be an important element of the country’s transmission system, the HVDC link is used as an energy-balancing system between the two islands.

The key component of the upgrade will be ABB Ability MACH control system, which serves as the brain, or nerve centre, of the link.

“This upgrade will enhance grid reliability and availability, thereby increasing power security and bringing clean power to consumers.”

ABB’s project scope includes a valve upgrade of pole 2 comprising capacitors, fibre optics and valve control units based on the Ability MACH control system.

Slated for completion in 2020, the upgrade will be carried out in a manner that reduces the impact on the grid and the power-trading market.

ABB Power Grids division president Claudio Facchin said: “This upgrade will enhance grid reliability and availability, thereby increasing power security and bringing clean power to consumers.

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“The project reiterates our strategic focus on service, our commitment to integrating renewables and the role of digital technologies based on our ABB Ability based technologies, as well as reinforcing our HVDC technology leadership as a partner of choice for enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”

The North-South HVDC interconnection, spanning more than 600km, enables efficient transmission of clean power to areas of high demand.

Additionally, the link plays a key role in the New Zealand electricity market by allowing power trading between the two islands.

The demand for power on the North Island is reported to be substantially higher compared to the South Island, due to higher population.