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Eel River

ABB was awarded a contract from NB Power to upgrade a 40-year-old HVDC back-to-back converter station in New Brunswick, Canada.

Operating since 1972, the Eel River station is home to the world's first commercial solid state High Voltage Direct Current converter station. This 320 MW interconnection facility, built by Canadian General Electric and NB Power, incorporates high current silicon solid state thyristors to convert alternating current from Hydro Quebec to direct current and back to alternating, allowing asynchronous, stable power transfers to serve NB Power's customers.

Eel River HVDC station was recognized as a technology milestone by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in 2011, for being the world’s first commercial HVDC station to be equipped with thyristor valves only, which replaced mercury-arc valve based systems then in use. Thyristor valves went on to become standard equipment for DC converter stations. Technical developments like this one that have reduced the size and improved the reliability of conversion equipment have resulted in more widespread use of HVDC transmission. 

The ABB upgrade involves the replacement of existing equipment, originally installed in 1972, with the latest converter valves, a state-of-the-art MACH control and protection system, DC apparatus and cooling systems for maximum reliability and availability for power interchange. ABB is responsible for associated engineering, part of installation, commissioning and testing. The upgraded station went into operation in 2014.

The Eel River station provides a bi-directional asynchronous interconnection between the New Brunswick and Hydro Québec grids, in the southeastern part of Canada. It was originally built to provide Hydro-Québec with its first major power interconnection with the remainder of eastern North America.

Main data

Commissioning year: 1972; upgrade, 2014
Power rating: 350 MW
No. of poles: 2
AC voltage: both sides: 230 kV
DC voltage: 80 kV
Type of link: back-to-back station
Main reason for choosing HVDC: asynchronous networks
Application: interconnecting grids

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