Wednesday, January 28, 2009

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC)

High voltage direct current (HVDC) is the transmission of direct current as opposed to the commonly used alternating current used today. Two of the most beneficial features of HVDC transmission are that it incurs less than half the transmission losses that HVAC incurs and it is less expensive to construct the lines. This makes HVDC the superior platform for transporting electricity long distances. DC is not better for shorter distances because of the higher cost of DC conversion equipment compared to an AC system.

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison revolutionized American society by developing the first electricity distribution systems. Edison developed and promoted direct current (DC) and Tesla developed and promoted alternating current (AC) and they became rivals in commercializing their respective electrical systems. Tesla won. Unlike DC, AC could be stepped up to very high voltages with transformers, sent over thinner and less expensive wires, and stepped down again at the destination for distribution to users. Thomas Edison failed because he could not practically and economically send DC very far. Nikola Tesla developed and patented much of AC power generation and distribution technology used today. Edison's company established the first investor-owned electric utility in 1882 and his generating station's electrical power distribution system provided 110 volts DC to 59 customers in lower Manhattan. George Westinghouse and Edison became adversaries because of Edison's promotion of direct current for electric power distribution instead of the more easily transmitted AC system invented by Tesla and promoted by Westinghouse.

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