In announcing a new system for managing High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC), Siemens stirred a bubbling pool of hype this summer that has been spewing out outlandish claims for what HVDC might do for renewables. Among these, The Economist, a global business magazine, suggested that the entire European AC network would have to be exchanged for a DC system if wind power is to become more than "a walk-on extra." Siemens' HVDC Plus, however, represents a potential incremental advance in the connection of offshore wind farms to shore, not a revolution. Until now, most HVDC systems, which promise lower losses of electricity than AC systems in underground cables, have been constrained by the need to have fairly robust power systems at each end of the cable. The Anglo-French connection under the English Channel is a typical example. Siemens says that by using a new type of AC/DC converter technology, it can shift power from offshore wind farms of modest size to shore as HVDC electricity. As well as reducing losses, compared with standard HVDC technology, the Siemens system would give better control, the technology would occupy less space and promise higher reliability, claims the company.
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