Ultra high voltage: the future of electricity transmission
Geneva, Switzerland - Studies in the USA indicate that the world's electrical consumption is set to rise to 30 billion kWh by 2030 from 15.4 billion kWh in 2006. Governments and utilities today need to plan to supply large amounts of electrical energy efficiently, inexpensively and with minimal impact on the environment.
In countries with growing populations and rising economies, such as Brazil, China and India, demand for electricity will become intense and the challenge will be to deliver large quantities of electricity from power generating stations to urban centres that can be thousands of kilometres away. Ultra high voltage, or UHV, offers the promise to meet this challenge.
UHV is needed to deliver electricity to cities without increasing the number of transmission lines. In growing cities where demand is on the rise but room for transmission lines is limited this is critical because it means only one power line corridor is needed, not several.
The world's two leading organizations involved in this question - the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) - are holding a symposium in Beijing from 18-21 July to determine the best ways forward on developing UHV.
The main issues for this technology involve equipment reliability (protection for people) and stability (uninterrupted service when a line fails). New transformers, circuit-breakers and associated equipment and new transmission lines designed for UHV will need to be developed. International Standards for this do not exist yet so they, too, need to be developed to ensure the safe and efficient use of this technology. It is a technical challenge for manufacturers and utilities, and a regulatory issue for governments - one that is now being addressed by the IEC and CIGRE.
Dennis Brougham (Mr.)
International Electrotechnical Commission
Tel.: +41/22/919'02'60 (direct)
Fax: +41/22/919'03'00 (general)