Hitachi Energy, a leading provider of innovative solutions for utility and infrastructure sectors, has signed an agreement with Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority to upgrade the Al Fadhili high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter station under the authority in Saudi Arabia.

A major utility facility, Al Fadhili converter station began its operations in 2009 as part of a project to interconnect the power grids of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Once upgraded, the Al Fadhili station will be able to exchange up to 1,800MW of electricity between these states. Additionally, the station serves a special purpose vehicle to maintain the stability of the connected grids.

This upgrade project will replace hardware and software with Hitachi Energy’s cutting-edge MACH control and protection system, the brain behind HVDC links, it stated.

According to Hitachi Energy, the contract was mainly aimed at creating a resilient interconnected grid, ensuring power security and economic benefits.

The GCCIA allows the sharing of the operational and spinning reserve, which achieves higher efficiency in the use of operating capacities and higher efficiency in the operation of electric power production stations, leading to great improvements in the regions’ power security and reliability.

Power security in the Gulf countries is especially critical due to extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, the link will allow optimization in electricity generation resulting in reduced CO2 emissions by minimizing the need for additional power generation, ensuring a secure power supply between the member countries, it stated.

Niklas Persson, the Managing Director at Hitachi Energy’s Grid Integration business, said: "Security of electricity is something society often takes for granted, but it’s special systems like the Al-Fadhili converter station which keeps the power flowing, is essential for the economy and well-being of the local society."

"With this upgrade, Hitachi Energy will deliver significant value with a real impact improving the system performance and further expanding its lifetime," he noted.

Authority CEO Ahmed bin Ali Al Ibrahim said the project will contribute to strengthening the electrical interconnection expansion projects adopted by the authority, which aims to increase the reliability of energy in the Gulf network and make it more efficient.

"The project represents great opportunities to exchange energy, especially in light of the increase in the capacity of the electrical connection to achieve economical operation of the network, especially during the summer, and also to increase the security and stability of the network and reduce interruptions," he added.

Al Ibrahim pointed out that HVDC systems are commonly used for large-scale transmission and exchange of electricity over large distances between two HVDC converter stations, but the Al Fadhili HVDC converter station is a back-to-back system in a single location.

"Back-to-back stations utilise the sophisticated, digital controllability of an HVDC system to precisely manage the flow and properties of the electricity supply, providing many benefits for grid control and stability," he added.

In addition to this upgrade and the other ongoing projects, Hitachi Energy and GCCIA are strengthening their collaboration to build a resilient interconnection grid by ensuring power security and economic benefits.

Al Ibrahim said this will accelerate GCCIA’s journey to become a global hub in grid interconnections and create a dynamic electricity market for the region and beyond.

"Initial areas of focus for the collaboration include developing standardized base designs to be applied for high-voltage direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) transmission systems to interconnect countries. This includes grid connections and power quality solutions, in particular Statcoms, which provides significant benefits throughout the assets’ plan, build, operate and maintain life cycle," he added.

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