Under the terms of the deal, ABB will replace vital components of Hydro-Quebec's ultra-high voltage transmission system that helps transport clean hydroelectric power from North to South Quebec. As part of the order, which was booked in the fourth quarter of 2013, ABB will upgrade two Static Var Compensators (SVC) located at the Albanel substation, about 500 kilometers north of Montreal. According to ABB, these units will provide fast-acting reactive power compensation for the 735 kilovolt electricity network.
“This upgrade will significantly extend the life of the SVCs and substantially reduce electrical losses” said Claudio Facchin, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. The upgrades are scheduled to be completed by 2016, he added.
SVCs are part of ABB’s family of FACTS, or "flexible alternating current transmission systems technologies," which help enhance the capacity and flexibility of power transmission systems and contribute to the evolution of smarter grids. They compensate for fluctuations in the voltage and current of an electric grid, thereby allowing more power to flow through the network while maintaining network safety and stability. FACTS solutions allow more power to reach consumers through the existing transmission network. According to ABB, this results in lower investment costs and shorter implementation times than the traditional alternative of building new power plants and transmission lines, with the added benefit of minimizing environmental impact. They also help address voltage and frequency stability issues and enable the transmission system to run more efficiently.
Beyond hydropower, Hydro-Québec supports the development of other technologies — such as wind energy and biomass — through purchases from independent power producers. Hydro-Québec also conducts R&D in energy-related fields, including energy efficiency.