China is to construct a 2000 km power link in a landmark project that will see a number of breakthroughs in power transmission technology.

The country’s State Grid Corporation has awarded a contract worth $440 million to ABB to provide equipment for the link, which will use ultra high voltage technology and which will become the longest power transmission link in the world when commissioned in 2011.

The power superhighway will link power plants in western China to the country’s industrialised east coast. At 6400 MW, the link will meet the needs of about 31 million people in China, according to IEA electricity consumption figures.

ABB will supply ultra high voltage direct current (UHVDC) equipment for the link, which will comprise two substations and a power transmission system using breakthrough technology. The link will transmit power at 800 kV, helping to minimize the amount of power lost in transmission.

At 6400 MW, the link’s power rating will be more than double that of the most powerfully rated connector in operation today. Transmission losses are expected to be less than seven per cent.

The link will run from the Xiangjiaba hydropower plant to Shanghai. It will use newly developed six-inch thyristors (4-layer power switching semiconductors) and an advanced control system, which together allow the biggest capacity and efficiency leap in this field in 20 years, says ABB.

The increase in capacity and efficiency have been made possible by advances in research in a number of fields, including the development of new materials for outdoor insulators and advanced control systems with extremely high calculation capacity.