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ABB develops switchgear rated at more than one million volts

ABB has commissioned the development of a switchgear rated to handle more than one million volts (1,100kV), which breaks new ground in terms of global voltage levels and would be equivalent to turning the electrical consumption of Switzerland on or off within milliseconds, the company says.

The ultrahigh-voltage gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) has a switching capability of 6,900 megawatts, which means it can turn power for a country with more than 7 million inhabitants on or off within the blink of an eye.

ABB designed, tested and commissioned the GIS for a pilot project launched in 2006 by State Grid Corporation of China to demonstrate the feasibility of AC power transmission at ultrahigh voltage.

The GIS is a central component of ultrahigh-voltage electricity transmission designed to carry huge amounts of electricity over vast distances with very low losses. ABB completed the assignment over two years with technology partner Xian Shiky, a Chinese switchgear manufacturer who worked in close co-operation with ABB throughout the project.

“This is a breakthrough that will serve as a benchmark for future ultrahigh-voltage projects and is another example of ABB’s constant quest for technological innovation and commitment to energy efficiency,” said ABB power products division head, Bernhard Jucker.

State Grid has announced plans to invest more than US$14 billion in the next three to four years to expand its ultrahigh-voltage (UHV) network. Ultrahigh voltage transmission reduces power losses and requires a smaller transmission corridor than conventional technologies.

It is particularly suitable for countries like China, where energy resources are often far from the centres of power consumption, ABB says.

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