Myth of technical un-feasibility of complex multi-terminal HVDC and ideological barriers to inter-country power exchanges – Czisch

(Note this originally appeared as part of the discussion on the Claverton Energy Group email circulation list, but was judged to be sufficiently important to be published as a learned article on the main site. Preceding emails are appended at the end unedited. Feel free to join the circulation list…Ed.)

From Dr Gregor Czisch.

There are two subjects in Nigel Wakefield’s email I would like to address:

First Subject- Technical feasibility of complex multi-terminal HVDC systems:

Nigel Wakefield wrote

> One of the problems that needs addressing with HVDC is, I believe
> the problem of multi-nodal links. … However I understand that
> technology linking individual point supply into an HVDC link is
> not available yet.

Can anyone elucidate on this?

It is often claimed that HVDC is not ready for multi-terminal purposes.

This is as frequently claimed as it is wrong. I think the fact that it is repeated so often leads to the fact that it is widely believed even though it has been known more many years that multi-terminal systems are possible and every technology necessary is already available. I am not going to speculate on  who is interested in keeping the misinformation on the technical unfeasibility alive but I want to contribute with some more technical “education”.

One of the “problems” often mentioned is the misinformation that HVDC circuit breakers are not available and therefore faults in complex HVDC systems could not be cleared (solved). This is absolutely wrong.

HVDC circuit breakers were  built and tested in the mid 1980’s. The highly regarded HVDC expert Karl-Werner Kanngießer who was an employee of Calor Emag Schaltanlagen later ABB Calor Emag Schaltanlagen and also worked for Siemens wrote in [Kan99] about the HVDC circuit breakers.

“Untersuchungen [14] haben gezeigt, dass durch den Einsatz von HGÜ-Leistungsschaltern in parallel geführten Gleichstromleitungen die Klärung von transienten oder auch permanenten Leistungsfehlern in etwa 100 ms möglich ist, eine störende Auswirkung auf die angeschlossenen Drehstromsysteme somit praktisch vermieden wird. Nachdem der Prototyp eines 500 kV-HGÜ-Leistungsschalters gebaut und in einer bestehenden HGÜ-Anlage erfolgreich getestet worden ist [15], darf auch hier die Ausführbarkeit vorausgesetzt werden.”

My translation into English is as follows:

“Research [14] has shown that through the use of HVDC power circuit breakers in parallel operated direct current lines, clearing transient as well as permanent faults in about 100 ms is possible, and a disturbing effect on the connected AC systems can thus  in fact be avoided. Since the prototype of a 500 kV HVDC-breaker has been built and successfully tested in an existing HVDC system [15], the executability can be seen as being assured.”

So there is no question that HVDC circuit breakers have been available since about 1985. It just has not been necessary to use them in point to point systems. But furthermore they would not definitely be necessary even in a complex HVDC system. This can be understood by reading the following explanations of Dr Uwe Radke a former member or E.ON Netz and participant of highly relevant feasibility studies about complex HVDC systems which have been elaborated with the participation of many big utilities and experts in the field of electricity transport (see e.g.

[BDE+98], [BDE+00], [Rad00a], [Rad00b]): Following statement was recently written by Dr Uwe Radtke about HVDC circuit breakers:

“The HVDC circuit breakers are able to interrupt a short circuit power flow in the range of milliseconds to separate a disturbed section of HVCD overhead lines or HVDC cable links with a minimum influence of the undisturbed transmission system. This kind of circuit breaker is not installed in any HVDC point-to-point links because it is not necessary. “

The same function to separate a disturbed section is also feasible with the thyristor valves in the converter station. In conjunction with disconnectors they are also able to separate a disturbed overhead line section in a sufficiently short time. After the thyristors have reduced the voltage on the disturbed line to null the disconnectors separate the disturbed line sections definitively. Disconnectors alone are not able the interrupt power flow.

For example if short circuit breakers are wished by the operators for meshed HVDC networks these circuit breakers could be compounded with existing devices. HVAC (alternating current) breakers of an industrial series production could be installed in connection with an oscillatory circuit to interrupt the short circuit power flow during the moment the voltage is null. As a consequence no device has to be developed, only devices from an industrial series production have to be installed. The principle of HVDC short circuit breaking was successfully tested many years ago.

Of course new HVAC breakers compounded by actual devices should be tested in an HV laboratory before they are installed in a transmission system.

Furthermore I think that meshed HVDC networks could be operated also without HVDC circuit breakers anyway only with required thyristor valves and disconnectors. This question of whether  HVDC circuit breakers are necessary or not, finally depends on how the existing HVAC grid and the new HVDC network are connected with each other and how strong and fast the primary control of the power plants is. Primary control means a very fast power plant reserve capacity able to hold the frequency stable at rated frequency for example 50 or 60 Hz.

I think in any case network simulations of each situation are necessary to answer the question if HVDC short circuit breakers are necessary or not.

Summarizing I would like to say that a meshed HVDC network using currently available industrial produced equipment is technically feasible at the present state of the art.

So the alleged unavoidability of HVDC circuit breakers for multi-terminal HVDC systems as well as the alleged unavailability of HVDC circuit breakers are both false. They are simply not true. There is thus no real problem with HVDC circuit breakers.

There is a second myth about multiterminal HVDC systems. It is the myth about missing control methods. But there are methods to control even complex meshed HVDC systems. One was developed by Franz Karlecik-Maier an expert for control systems when he was working for Siemens. He invented the so called Combined and Coordinated Control Method (CCCM) which makes it possible to run big complex HVDC Systems. It is a method which permits operation of the system without a “master controller” (central control). At the least after its invention it could now be assumed that there is barely a technical limit in the number of converter stations in complex HVDC systems. Also this knowledge has been around for many years now. It is for example published in [BDE+00] [Rad00b]. (Some related patents of Franz Karlecik-Maier are [K-M08] [K-M97])

So, if anyone wanted to know about the existing – and already tested methods – they could easily have read about it.

Without CCCM – or another operational method with similar properties – the HVDC system would have to be divided into individual less complex subsystems, for example, ring systems, as investigated in [ABE +93], or in linear systems, such as described in [BHK +98] . This would increase the number of required converters. In the extreme and unnecessarily simplified case with just two converter stations at the two ends of point to point HVDC subsystems the number of required converter stations would nearly be doubled. Even this would not make the Supergrid unfeasible. But those speculations are in fact unnecessary because the control methods for complex multi-terminal HVDC systems are available as mentioned before.

Summarizing it can be stated that there is no reason  at all why a complex multi-terminal HVDC system should not be feasible with today’s equipment. Multi-terminal HVDC systems are feasible with existing technology.

Second Subject – Political obstacles such as rising prices as a result new transmission lines

The point of rising prices in one market on one end of a new transmission system and the resulting rejection of the project (The UK Norway link) was addressed by Nigel Wakefield.

Nigel Wakefield wrote:

> However, I think the real reason was that UK prices were so much
> higher at the time than Nord Pool prices that the initial effect would
> have been a baseload export of 1200 MW to the UK. This would have
> raised wholesale prices in Norway (and likely across Scandinavia) by
> about 25% which would have been politically unacceptable……

I think this is a problem which is worth thinking about but which can be solved. In my statement for the hearing “Future energy and climate policy in Hessen” [Czi08] in the Hessian parliament I addressed it as follows:

“The large-scale electric power transmission can also raise legitimate fears on the consumer side. An example is the Norwegian electricity market. This marked is characterized by the production from storage hydropower plants and low electricity costs. The rated power of the storage hydropower plants exceeds the current network capacity between Scandinavia and Europe by about one order of magnitude. This means that the Norwegian market with its cheap electricity is only influenced relatively little by the European market in the south. But if the transmission capacity will be strengthened considerably, there is offered a very attractive market to Norwegian producers for the sale of their electricity – because of the high electricity prices. Because of the the character of storage hydropower – the Norwegian kind of electricity – the Norwegian electricity is particularly well-suited, to be placed as peak load electricity in the highest price segment in Europe. In the free play of market forces – without appropriate tools as counter measure – this would inevitably lead to an increase of electricity costs in Norway, while the Norwegian consumers would suffer from higher electricity prices. Even such mechanisms are thus to be taken into account while planning for the establishment of a powerful large-scale electricity transmission system in order to find solutions for the structural problems and in order to implement these in time”.

So there are solutions which can be found for this problem (providing rigorous adherence to rigid and irrational market dogmas are abandoned….as they have been recently in banking..Ed) But this does not have to be very difficult. One just has to combine the construction of the transmission systems with the formulation and signing of appropriate contracts, which regulate the electricity prices. This sounds like a simple approach as long as one does not take into account the market ideologists who politically still are very influential and dislike this kind of approach. But especially the huge hydropower potentials with their huge storage volume in Norway could be extremely helpful in order to come to a reliable end affordable electricity supply totally from renewable energies. Therefore it is worthwhile to search for solutions even if it might be necessary to overcome some mental and ideological barriers.

Gregor Czisch




V. ; PIRET, J.-P. ; RIPPAR, G. ; SEIPEL, E. ; SMIRNOV, I. ; SOULIS, E. ; VERGELLI, L.: Elements for the development of a future European power system / Union der Elektrizitätswirtschaft (Eurelectric). 1993 ( 04002Ren9326).

– Report.

Verfügbar über:

[BDE+98] BELENERGO ; DC BALTIJA ; EESTI ENERGIA ; LATVENERGO ; LIETUVOS ENERGIJA ; PPGC ; PREUSSENELEKTRA ; RAO EES ROSSIJ ; VEAG, Autoren n. b.: TEN-Energy Study East-West High Power Electricity Transmission System – Baltic Route – Phase I / European Commission: Trans-European Energy Networks.
Gelsenkirchen, April 1998. – Executive Summary. conveyed by Uwe Radtke, E.ON Netz, Lehrte
[BDE+00] BELENERGO ; DC BALTIJA ; EESTI ENERGIA ; LATVENERGO ; LIETUVOS ENERGIJA ; PPGC ; PREUSSENELEKTRA ; RAO EES ROSSIJ ; VEAG, Autoren n. b.: TEN-Energy Study East-West High Power Electricity Transmission System
– Baltic Route – Phase II / European Commission: Trans-European Energy Networks.

Gelsenkirchen, Mai 2000. – Executive Summary. conveyed by Uwe Radtke, E.ON Netz, Lehrte


[BHK+98] BRUNTT, M. ; HANSSON, B. ; KNUDSEN, L. ; NURMINEN, H. ; RADTKE, U. ; STØVRING-HALLSSONAND, S.: Baltic Ring Study, Power System Analysis Report:

Multiterminal HVDC Systems / Baltic Ring Electricity Co-operation Committee (BALTREL). 1998. – Forschungsbericht. Veröffentlichung auf CD-Rom

[Czi08] Czisch, G.: Stellungnahme zur Anhörung “Zukünftige Energie- und Klimaschutzpolitik in Hessen” des Ausschusses für Umwelt, ländlichen Raum und Verbraucherschutz, im Hessischen Landtag, 2. bis 4. September 2008, Kassel, August 2008

[Kan99] KANNGIESSER, K.-W.: Nutzung regenerativer Energiequellen Afrikas zur Stromversorgung Europas durch Kombination von Wasserkraft und Solarenergie. In:
BRAUCH, H. (Hrsg.) ; CZISCH, G. (Hrsg.) ; KNIES, G. (Hrsg.):
Regenerativer Strom
für Europa durch Fernübertragung elektrischer Energie. Moosbach :


September 1999 (1). – ISBN 3-926979-71-2, S. 111-122

[K-M08] Karlecik-Maier, F.: Patent: Control Method for Direct-Current Transmission by Means of a Plurality of Converters, Agents: LERNER GREENBERG STEMER LLP, Assignees: SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, Origin:

HOLLYWOOD, FL US, IPC8 Class: AH02M710FI, USPC Class: 363 68, 2008

[K-M97] Karlecik-Maier, F.: Patent: PROCESS AND DEVICE FOR REGULATING N POWER CONVERTER STATIONS OF A MULTIPOINT HVDCT NETWORK, International Application No.: PCT/DE1996/002186 Publication Date:05.06.1997

[Rad00a] RADTKE, U.: TEN-Energy Study East-West High Power Electricity Transmission System – Baltic Route: Main Results and Conclusions of the Final Report Phase II, Executive Summary Working Group 4 “Environmental and Routing” / European
Commission: Trans-European Energy Networks. 2000. – presentation on CD, conveyed by Uwe Radtke, E.ON Netz, Lehrte
[Rad00b] RADTKE, U.: TEN-Energy Study East-West High Power Electricity Transmission System – Baltic Route: Main Results and Conclusions of the Final Report Phase II Working Group 1 “Technical Aspects” / European Commission: Trans-European Energy Networks. 2000. – presentation on CD, conveyed by Uwe Radtke, E.ON Netz, Lehrte
[14] Kanngießer, K.W.; Wolters, I.: “Comparative performance of an HVDC transmission system with d,c, breakers for clearing d.c. line faults”.

CIGRE-Symp. 200-05, Boston 1987.

[15] Bachmann, G.; Mauthe, G.; Ruoss, E.; Lips, H.P.; Porter, J.; Vithayathil, J.: “Development of a 500 kV airblast HVDC circuit breaker”. IEEE trans. power app. a, syst. PAS-104 (1985) S.2460.





Dave Andrews schrieb:

> Nigel – many thanks for this.

> Gregor – or anyone else got any knowledge on the last point in Nigel’s

> note

> Dave


] Sent: 29 January 2009 17:20



> Subject: RE: [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental?

> Norway UK / UK Iceland link?

> I would hesitate to call myself an expert on the costs, though I

> looked at the North Sea Interconnector iin 1999. At the time the

> forecast cost was £450 million for a 1200 MW line of about 600 miles

> in length.


> There were many reasons it did not go ahead but I think the main one

> stated was that the two grid companies could not agree on a joint

> balancing code for real-time operation (their “gate closure”

> procedures were very different and neither wanted to change). However,

> I think the real reason was that UK prices were so much higher at the

> time than Nord Pool prices that the initial effect would have been a

> baseload export of 1200 MW to the UK. This would have raised wholesale

> prices in Norway (and likely across Scandinavia) by about 25% which

> would have been politically unacceptable……


> I think prices for HVDC cable got close to the $1 million per km mark

> at the height of the market. I suspect they will be considerably

> cheaper now with all commodity markets suffering due to the recession.

> From that perspective, now is a great time to be buildnig these links

> since commodity prices are only likely to be in this low range for a

> couple of years at best.


> Iceland to nearest UK landfall (northern Scotland in the Dounreay

> area) would be about 500 miles. However, landing a meaningful quantity

> of power there would mean a very expensive and NIMBY-resisted upgrade

> to the grid all the way down to the England / Scotland border. It

> would probably be better to run a line down the seabed on the Scottish

> west coast and make landfall at somewhere like Sellafield, Heysham,

> Wylfa, etc….


> One of the problems that needs addressing with HVDC is, I believe, the

> problem of multi-nodal links. A west coast link running from Iceland

> would, in theory, be able to pick up a lot of otherwise stranded wind

> and tidal current energy along the way. However I understand that

> technology linking individual point supply into an HVDC link is not

> available yet. Can anyone elucidate on this?



>> >> Subject: RE: [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental?

> Norway UK / UK Iceland link?

>> Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 09:58:44 +0700



>> Hi Nigel, don’t you have some knowledge of the costs of the proposed

> Norway

>> / UK HVDC link? I assume this would be pretty much the same as the

> cost of

>> a link from Iceland to UK? Perhaps you could remind us of the costs

> and why

>> it didn’t go ahead?


>> There was a proposal to link Iceland directly to Holland at one point.


>> Kind Regards


>> Dave A


>> Ps George – for year I thought Iceland was the size of the Isle of

> Wight –

>> but in fact it is pretty much the same size as the UK……


>> Why not go across the top from Russia across the Barents Sea to US?

> This has

>> been talked about……..



> From: Nigel Wakefield [

8 comments on “Myth of technical un-feasibility of complex multi-terminal HVDC and ideological barriers to inter-country power exchanges – Czisch

  1. Gregor

    You make some good points about the HVDC issues but there is a difference between technically possible and commercially available.

    The difference is probably between 2-5 years depending on the commercial drivers and technical issues. Doing things at EHV such as 500kV is far from trivial.

    However, you have to ask if the concept of HVDC breakers was proven in 1985, why are there not any commercially available. I find it hard to believe that 20+ years have passed and that there are none yet commercially available – is that due to commercial drivers or technical issues requiring more development? From recent discussions with HVDC manufacturers, HVDC circuit breakers are still very much in the R&D phase. My understanding was also that CCM was only ever demonstrated in simulation form – please correct me if that is not the case.

    So if you ask me professionally if HVDC circuit breakers or multi-terminal control systems exist, my answer would be that I have not seen sufficient evidence that they do.

    Can they be built or deployed if a suitable project requires them? I am sure that they can. However, sufficient development time and cost must be allowed for in the project plan. This is often why new technology is difficult to deploy – commercial cost and risk.

    I personally am waiting with interest to see what happens with the Three Gorges project in China as ABB allude to using HVDC circuit breakers there. That may be the stepping stone the technology needs.


    Graeme Bathurst

  2. These emails predate the Czisch emails.

    George et al,

    Apologies for going “off reservation”!

    As to Iceland, there is no reason for any external investment to increase energy costs there at all. In my mind, I assume that foreign (ie UK) investors make the capital and infrastructural investment and link the output directly to the interconnector. It would not even have to be “plumbed into” the Icelandic grid. There would have to be some sort of annual ground rent for the site, an annual O&M contract for the facilities to be run by Icelandic nationals, and an amortised decomissioning fund set up. I assume the Icelanders would also want to be paid something for their energy, possibly through some sort of tax……. though how much that would be would have to be determined by project economics…

    [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental? Norway UK / UK Iceland link?
    Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 18:38:38 +0000

    Dear all, as Dave will tell you I am notoriously scrupulous about sticking to the point…

    A very quick aside. A ‘bad bank’ is political suicide for any party, since it is then the government foreclosing on mortgages etc. and there is a financially liquid majority asking probing questions about why individuals who took risks are then getting parachuted. If it happens, make preparations to emigrate, although goodness only knows where to. Methinks HMG are trying to find ways around this at present. Oh, and a fair amount of my savings are (or should I say were?) invested in RBS…

    I suggest I get in touch with some people in Iceland and find out how they would go about the generating side – say – but can I assume that this wouldn’t push up energy costs in Iceland since it would effectively be a one-way link from otherwise stranded assets?

    Regards, George

    Subject: RE: RyeE: [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental? Norway UK / UK Iceland link?

    I have frequently commented that the only country in the world that does more than pay lip-service to free-market capitalism is the UK. Even here, through necessity, that is now changing as the government seeks to nationalise banks, bail-out the car industry, encourage the money lenders to lend and the “consumer” (since that is what we “people” are now known as) to consume more… all in the pursuit of the endless growth paradigm that relies on ever increasing consumption of a limited resource base. I am far from the only person to think the country would have been far better off putting those hundreds of billions of bail-out pounds into creating nationalised industries building wind turbines, power interconnectors, domestic solar thermal applications, etc, etc. I would like to see a state-funded investment in the use of phase change technology to capture waste heat from power stations and deliver it it offices, schools, hsopitals and homes. I would like lots of things, but do not think many, if any, of them are likely to happen.A Council of Wise Men and Women would likely do a better job of central planning than a bunch of elected politicians, but no doubt performance standard benchmarking and Key Performance Indicator requirements would likely get in the way of the job at hand. After all, the Council would have to be accountable to someone and that would be the public, THROUGH ITS DEMOCRACTICALLY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES! In any case, as we have seen here at Claverton, it is hard to get a bunch a (very) wise men and women to agree on almost anything and that is largely, in my opinion, because we are largely pushing our own agendas, opinions, businesses, etc. Because we are “wise”, we all think our own solutions are the ebst solutions – as a largely non-partisan spectator it’s enough to make me want to scream. If we can’t agree a specific agenda amongst ourselves, what chance of convincing the government, the general public, etc. I understand entirely where you are coming from, Dave, in your advocacy of a crash programme for investment in sustainable and renewable technologies and the surrounding infrastructure, and for what it’s worth I agree in principle with the idea. However the devil is in the details: 1. Where are we going to get the £35 billion a year without (further) bankrupting the economy and driving sterling to ever lower values, thereby inhiniting our ability to source the natural resources needed to build the infrastructure?2. What, exactly, are we going to do with that money? As I said, there is not even agreement on that at Claverton….. As an aside, has anyone considered why the car industry (800,000 direct jobs) gets £2.3 billion in bailouts, whereas the financial services industry gets more than 100 times that but does not support 80 million jobs? It’s about the multiplier effect. The government needs to support the banks for two reasons. Firstly, by re-capitalising them it hopes to re-inject liquidity in the credit markets. Secondly, bankers earn more than carworkers and therefore have a greater amount of disposable income to spend thus sustaining the economy. However, the banks have not come clean on the extent of the losses in their loan portfolio and the government has not even begun to do enough due diligence before throwing hundreds of millions at them. I think that the majority of these institutions are de facto bankrupt, so why not just nationalise the lot of them, wipe out the shareholders, sweep all the loans into one “bad bank”, and issue new shares in the banks owned by the public. That way the public bares the longer term risk of the credit book, but gains from the upside of owning the nationalised banking industry which can start afresh with a healthy balance sheet. The banks could then finance the sort of projects we are talking about. The problem is who supervises the banks to stop them simply going back to the same idiotic excess that got us into the mess in the first place? A Council of Wise Men & Women… whoops, back to square one!

    Subject: RyeE: [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental? Norway UK / UK Iceland link?
    Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 16:19:31 +0700

    Wise words Nigel, but doesn’t that point up the stupidity of relying on markets to finance a long term energy infrastructure?

    Surely it is the case that this is definitely one area in which a council of wise mean (see Interlock Research – )
    – largely technical people with a few economists thrown in, should in some way come up with a long term strategic plan – for implementation over the next 30 years – in that context we can ignore all the gyrations of the capital markets, which as we now know are largely driven by irrational mood swings in traders hormones levels feeding into their perceptions (testosterone on the up, and cortisol on the down – See BBC Evan Davis’ look at markets and traders on BBC2 yesterday).

    What we need to do is to swap 30 or even 60 years of reduced import bills (my estimate ?35 Billion per year 60 years x ?35 billion buys you a lot of cables, insulation and wind turbines) for investment now in technology – and it definitely returns cash.

    This is how we funded WW2 – 60 year loans from the USA which we only paid back a few years back – life wasn’t that bad after the war after all.

    We didn’t have any cash at all back then – but we funded the defeat of Nazism – it’s a much smaller deal to fund some assets which actually have a positive return, than $ the $7 trillion spent on non productive assets in world war 2.

    If you don’t want to do it by manipulating the money system – printing money – then the alternative is for us all to starve in the cold and dark – or to force the now hopefully unemployed bankers – at gunpoint if necessary ( particularly those who have been paying themselves massive bonuses for gambling and losing our money) , to take their shirts off and built the wind turbines or cables themselves.


    On Behalf Of Nigel WakefieldSent: 29 January 2009 22:57T
    Re: [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental? Norway UK / UK Iceland link?

    Please do not take my “costings” as gospel, as they are hopelessly out of date. The NorNed link between Norway and Holland is a more recent build and likely a better indicator of cost.

    As to the cost of interconnection versus the cost of new nuclear, you are right that the interconnector would be cheaper. However, we would also have to factor in the capital necessary to develop the energy resources in Iceland, whether that be geothermal, hydro or wind. The hydro and wind resources are substantial, but have limits in their utility. Wind, as we know is intermittent, and therefore could not offer optimal usage of the cable. The same is true of hydro which would only offer output in the summer when the snow and ice melts….

    >From a hydro storage point of view, Iceland does not offer a great deal as far as I am aware. I think most of the potential is run of river. Alan Drake at The Oil Drum is pretty clued up on this, perhaps we should ask him for some detail….

    An Iceland / UK interconnector economic case would look best with baseload geothermal power. I did some cursory research on this a few months back, enough to establish that there are at least a couple of GW of relatively easily tapped resource, with a total available of some 6 GW or more. Easy, that is, from an engineering point of view, rather than an environmental one. Having said that, I suspect Iceland would be happy to take whatever investment it can get given its current economic state. From that point of view, now would be a great time to strike a deal, while they are relatively desperate…. unfortunately we are also relatively desperate here in the UK and the capital required is not insignificant.
    The situation is ironic but entirely logical. The global recession has crushed commodity prices particularly in base metals and energy. Now would be a great time to lock in project economics by securing the (commodity) components necessary for such infrastructure works. However, the capital (and, dare I say it, debt) required to fund such projects is simply not available from the “financial” sector. Oil companies certainly have the necessary capital but are, in my opinion, more likely to spend it on M&A to secure oil and gas reserves while prices are relatively cheap. Energy utilities also havae the financial wherewithal to finance such schemes, but seem to be more focused on “clean coal” or new nuclear.

    Lastly, experience shows that the lead times for such projects is rarely less than 2 or 3 years, and there is not sufficient liquidity in the various markets (power, copper, etc) to enact the various financial hedges required to secure the necessary funding. In any case, such funding would be probably be looked upon as “securitisation” which must be one of the dirtiest words in the financial lexicon at the moment. Securitisation does of course come in many shapes and sizes, but sadly has now become synonymous with sub-prime mortgage packages. Everything is tarred with the same brush, and hence, to mix my metaphors, the baby will likely get chucked out with the bathwater.

    Subject: RE: [Claverton-Group] Interconnector – intercontinental? Norway UK / UK Iceland link?
    Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 14:11:38 +0000

    Dave – I thought pretty much the same on size until I looked into it, Mercator projections can really mess with perception! In long-term theory, why not both? CGIUK links and a Barents link would provide 24 time zone connection around the northern hemisphere…

    Nigel – thanks. An Iceland link would be advantageous since they have a potentially massive surplus that is effectively stranded, meaning that export should not affect their domestic situation? There is some talk of a subsea HVDC link from the Peterhead area south to Northumberland, so Dounreay may be possible?

    Overall we’d be looking at costs of perhaps £500million to £1billion for perhaps 1GW-2GW input – considerably less than a nuke?

    Regards, George

  3. Dear Sir,
    I hope you are well. I’ll be very grateful to you if you help me in my studies.
    I am a Ph.D student from IRAQ my Reseaches on

    [“HVDC transmission between UK and France in 1986”]

    Please can you send me some papers,articles and CD’s on avalaible
    Please help me, Please help me.

    Thank you very much
    With Best Reqards

    My ordinary mail is:

    Ali N. Hamoodi
    P.O.Box 11144
    University post office

  4. In re Dr Gregor Czisch’s comments on HVDC breakers: I believe 100 milliseconds is much too slow. The Current must be controlled within 2 ms, and snuffed out within 10 ms (or so). Also, some HVDC breaker designs have on-state losses that are substantial. Others have a spark gap that charges a capacitor as part of the design; at high voltage, this has to be in a high bay environmentally controlled building. What is needed is a compact, extremely reliable system. I have an invention in this area that I call a “ballistic circuit breaker” which I will be presenting at the IEEE Electric Ship Technical Symposium.

  5. The Norwegian price argument is a variation on 17th century protectionist ideas – they have nothing to do with energy generation, rather economic fallacies.
    It’s only natural to sell a resource at it’s highest price possible, thus conserving it and promoting it’s efficient use – no market dogmatism required. Norway as a whole is better of with higher energy prices and higher exports, for as long as the profits go to the rightful owner of the hydroelectric potential of the country – the Norwegian people.

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