HVDC Highway Powers South Korea to Meet 35% Growth Demand

By Rajendra Iyer, GE Power’s Grid Solutions HVDC & FACTS leader  

February 1, 2018

The traditional picture of electricity networks has been commonly understood as a number of large, discrete power sources supplying consumers based on well-understood demand patterns via Transmission and Distribution Networks. But that image is rapidly changing on both the generation and demand side. The future of these networks is a highly variable generation mix of large power sources, including renewables, and a less predictable demand.

To help manage the challenges that are being brought to the energy market, High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology is rising in popularity due to its ability to interconnect grids, integrate renewables, transfer three times as energy much over longer distances and control intermittent power with the lowest loss of energy. This solution can also support existing alternating current (AC) systems or build new power highways. It’s no surprise that the global HVDC market, which is currently valued at $6.2 billion, is expected to reach $14.36 billion by the end of 2026, according to a report by Future Market Insights.

In South Korea specifically, they’ve experienced nearly a 35 percent growth in energy demand in the last decade alone. To help address the need to provide efficient energy to densely populated areas, we recently announced a new contract through our joint venture with KEPCO, KAPES, to deliver a 4 GW HVDC transmission link from the power complex located East of South Korea to Seoul, a metropolitan area that represents around 40% of Korea’s energy demand.

This project will include a 500 kV HVDC Bipole with two converter stations, including valves, a cooling system, converter transformers, filters, a switchyard and a control system. This system will reinforce Korea’s electrical network and increase the grid’s reliability and stability once it is completed at the end of 2021. HVDC is the optimal solution given Korea’s environmental constraints and has reduced the environmental impact compared to a traditional AC system.

To date, GE has designed and delivered three additional HVDC projects in South Korea. We are so proud of our continued growth in the Asia-Pacific region and are excited to continue to contribute to the advancement of the Korean economy and industry by offering leading infrastructure technologies.