Powerful connections

ABB has won an order worth $550m from Eirgrid, the Irish transmission system operator, to connect the Irish and UK power grids.

ABB has won an order worth $550m (£385m) from Eirgrid, the Irish transmission system operator, to connect the Irish and UK power grids.

The transmission link will run underwater for 186km and underground for 70km, with minimal environmental impact. The only visible parts will be the converter stations at each end that switch AC to DC and back.

ABB will be responsible for system engineering, including design, supply and installation of the sea and land cables, and both converter stations.

The cable will be encased in extruded polymeric insulation, providing the strength needed to endure the severe conditions of the Irish Sea.

Rated at 200kV, this will be the highest voltage HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current) link using this type of cable. The high voltage enables a transmission capacity of 500MW.

Ireland plans to expand wind-power generation, and the link, between north Dublin and Wales, will ensure that it is able to import power if needed when the wind is not blowing, and to export power to the UK when it generates a surplus.

The system is scheduled to be operational in September 2012.

A new $550m link will connect the UK and Irish power grids