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DOE to Fund Research to Reduce Costs of High-Voltage Direct Current Transmission

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Office of Electricity plan to fund research to reduce costs of high-voltage direct current voltage source converter transmission systems, DOE reported in late August.

DOE noted that HVDC transmission systems are more efficient than traditional alternating current transmission systems for transmitting electricity over long distances while minimizing power losses.

Many renewable resources are in remote locations on land, or planned far from shore (e.g. offshore wind), “and HVDC transmission provides a cost-effective solution for renewable integration onto the grid,” it said in unveiling the plan to fund future research.

HVDC transmission requires converters to switch the power from AC to DC and back again to connect to the grid. The optimum converter configuration is the voltage source converter as it can turn itself on and off via control commands unlike other types of HVDC converters, according to DOE.

“This investment is intended to enable future grid upgrades that will be needed to cost-effectively integrate an increasing amount of renewable energy generation on to the grid, both onshore and offshore,” the federal agency said.

It is also the first action taken to support DOE’s HVDC COst REduction (CORE) Initiative, which aims to reduce the cost of HVDC systems by 35% by 2035 to promote widespread adoption of the technology.

Cost-effective HVDC VSC transmission systems will enable and simplify interconnection of renewable resources onto the nation’s grid, it said.

This future funding opportunity announcement is expected to seek applications for innovative designs of HVDC voltage source converter systems to reduce costs and promote adoption of the technology across the United States.

Target areas for innovation under this future FOA may include increasing the power capacity of the converter, decreasing the size of the converter substation, and increasing the lifespan of the system.  

The FOA is expected to be released between late September and late November 2023.

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