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ABB says it has developed a new technology that could pave the way for the integration of more renewable energy onto the grid and improve the reliability of the electric transmission system.

The company has developed what it says is the world's first circuit breaker for high-voltage direct current (DC). According to ABB, the technology combines fast mechanics with power electronics, and will be capable of "interrupting" power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within five milliseconds, or 30 times faster than the blink of a human eye.

This development removes a 100-year-old barrier to the development of DC transmission grids, which will enable the efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy, ABB explains, adding that DC grids will also improve grid reliability and enhance the capability of existing alternating-current networks.

The company is also in discussions with power utilities to identify pilot projects for the new development.

HVDC technology is needed to facilitate the long-distance transfer of power from renewable energy projects and integrate offshore wind power onto the grid.

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