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Difference between AC & DC Systems

In an AC system the current and voltage waves

cycle between positive and negative peaks at
the system frequency. In a DC system the
current and voltage magnitudes are fixed.
Wave for Direct current
AC power can be converted to DC and vice versa
using special equipments.

Conversion from AC to DC is done by rectifiers while

DC to AC is done by Inverters.

For the purpose of this discussion both equipments

shall be referred to as Converters.
Single phase conversion from AC to DC
-Transformer to provide required input voltage
-Full wave Bridge rectifier for conversion
-Voltage Regulator
- Smoothening Capacitor
Output of the rectifier
Three-phase, full wave rectifier
3 phase output waveform

HVDC systems are used to transmit bulk energy

using DC voltage & current.

In a typical HVDC system AC voltage and current

are fed to the rectifier end of the HVDC where it
is converted from AC to DC.

The DC power is then transmitted over a DC

conducting path. The path may only be a few
metres long or hundreds of kilometres long.

At the other end of the path(called the Inverter)

the DC voltage and current ate converted back to
AC values.
When is HVDC used?

An HVDC system can be used to transmit power under a variety

of circumstances. The most common scenarios for which HVDC
systems are preferred over AC systems include:

Asynchronous interconnections/Back to back

To connect two AC systems that at different frequencies or

with different versions of the same frequencies. (One good example
is Sukuma freq. Changer,Japan & Itaipu, Brazil where 50Hz & 60Hz systems interfaced).

To increase system stability. It does so by preventing cascading

failures from propagating fromone part of a wider power
transmission grid to another, while still allowing power to be
importedor exported in the event of smaller failures.
To span long of underground or under water. High voltage AC
cables generate a lot of reactive power hence;
Shunt reactive compensation is necessary.
The high capacitance on these cables causes additional losses.
(Examples of some under sea cables are: the 250-km Baltic Cable
between Sweden and Germany, Most off-shore Wind power stations)

To transmit large amounts of power over long distances. When

costs of construction and operation of AC & HVDC systems are
compared, HVDC systems may be the most cost effective when
the transmission length exceeds 650Km.

1. Lower construction costs.

HVDC lines are less costly to construct than the
equivalent AC line. However, cost of HVDC converters
must be accounted for in any total cost comparison.
HVDC lines fewer conductors, smaller pylons, Less
insulation and occupy less right of way.
2. Lower line losses
When compared to an AC transmission system
with the same power transfer, same insulation
levels, and over the same size conductors,
HVDC transmission losses are approx. 33% lower
than AC transmission system losses.

3. Asynchronous Connections
Can be used to interconnect systems of
different frequencies, hence allowing different
systems to share generating capacity
production costs.
4. No power angle required
HVDC power transfer does not require an angle
specifically for the conducting path.

5. EMF consequences minimized

The magnetic fields that surround the HVDC
system do not alternate and are not considered
health risks by WHO

6. Complete control of MW Transfer

Power flow on an HVDC transmission line is set
using the control systems of converterstations.
Power flow does not depend on the operating
mode of connected power systems
7. Long Underground or Submarine crossings
No shunt reactive compensation is required.

8. Possible tool in Frequency Control process

When HVDC systems are used to tie two
interconnected systems, HVDC MW flow can be
rapidly adjusted to simulate response and to
provide AGC response.

9. Fault isolation between AC & HVDC Systems

Disadvantages of HVDC
1. Inability to Transform Voltages
HVDC systems do not produce alternating
magnetic fields and consequently can not use
conventional transformers. This limits the ability
of an HVDC system to be used to interconnect
with the AC System and serve customer load.

2. Difficult to tap HVDC lines

HVDC are not easily tapped as AC lines
- AC circuit breakers interrupt at a current zero
while there is no current zero in DC current.
- Each terminal requires an expensive HVDC
converter and complex control systems.
3. HVDC Converters are Complex Equipment
HVDC system operators must posses special skills
to operate and maintain this equipment.

4. HVDC Converters are Strong Harmonic Sources

The conversion process between AC to DC and DC
to AC is a strong harmonic source. Filter
networks must be installed to absorb these
harmonics to avoid harmful consequences to
both the AC and HVDC systems.
5. AC is Typically Less Costly for Shorter Lines
When a long line is built within an
interconnection, AC systems are typically
cheaper to construct until a length of 400 to 600
miles is reached.

6. High Reactive power requirements

High reactive power requirements at the
converter stations
Types of HVDC Systems

1. Monopolar Scheme
Uses one conductor(HVDC Transmission line) energized
with DC voltage & a return path, which may be earth, sea
or metallic conductor.
2. Binopolar Scheme
Uses two DC poles. One pole is normally energized with
positive voltage while the other with negative voltage.
Current will flow in the return path only if imbalance
exists between the two DC conductors.
Examples of HVDC Systems in the world