Hitachi Energy to upgrade Gulf States interconnector converter

Hitachi Energy to upgrade Gulf States interconnector converter
Signing of the HVDC upgrade contract. Courtesy Hitachi Energy.

To interconnect the power grids of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Hitachi Energy and the GCCIA have signed a contract to upgrade the Al-Fadhili High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter station under the GCCIA authority in Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) is a joint stock company, subscribed to by the six Gulf States. Its formations aims to allow the sharing of operational and spinning reserve, enabling higher efficiency in the operation of electric power production stations.

Once upgraded, the Al-Fadhili station will be able to exchange up to 1,800MW of electricity between the states.

The station serves a special purpose of maintaining the stability of the connected grids and, through GCCIA’s partnership with the global tech provider, the upgrade project will replace hardware and software with Hitachi Energy’s MACH control and protection system, which they tout as the brain behind HVDC links.

Hitachi Energy and Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) sign contract to upgrade the Al-Fadhili high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter station under the GCCIA authority in Saudi Arabia. Seated from left are: Enguerrand Ducene, Regional Sales Manager HVDC, Mohammed Samkari, Hitachi Energy President in Saudi Arabia, Eng. Ahmed Ali El Ebrahim, GCCIA CEO, and Mohammed Al Shaikh, Chief Networking Officer, GCCIA. Standing from left are: Johan Winther, Vice President – Global PG Manager HVDC Service, Taher AlTayeb, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Saudi Arabia, Mostafa AlGuezeri, Managing Director, UAE, Gulf, Near East and Pakistan, Eng. Abdullah Al Ghamdi, Head of HVDC GCCIA, and Nabeel Mussa, Vice President Service, Saudi Arabia. 

“Security of electricity is something society often takes for granted, but it is 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,” said Niklas Persson, managing director at Hitachi Energy’s Grid Integration business.

On inking the deal, Ahmed bin Ali Al-Ibrahim, CEO of the Gulf Electrical Interconnection Authority, said that 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.”

Also of interest:
Eirgrid and RTE ink first Celtic Interconnector agreement
Cyclades islands interconnector secures EIB backing
Energy Transitions Podcast: Denmark’s energy islands – a new era in energy

HVDC upgrades

HVDC systems are commonly used for large-scale transmission and exchange of electricity over large distances between two HVDC converter stations.

However, the Al-Fadhili HVDC converter station is a back-to-back system in a single location. Such stations utilise the digital controllability of an HVDC system to precisely manage the flow and properties of the electricity supply, which Hitachi Energy states as providing many benefits for grid control and stability.

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 developing standardised base designs for high-voltage direct current and Alternating Current (AC) transmission systems to interconnect countries.

The Al-Fadhili converter station started its operations in 2009 as part of a project to interconnect the power grids of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.