Static frequency converter power electronics solution to help unlock additional capacity without infrastructure reinforcement

ABB has been awarded a contract by Western Power Distribution (WPD) to deploy an innovative flexible power link in Devon, southwest England, which will enable an increase in capacity without the need for infrastructure reinforcement.

Flexible power links are a key part of WPD’s Network Equilibrium project, which is supported through the UK’s Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCNF). The project, which is being led by Western Power Distribution, will operate as part of a trial across areas of southwest England, is designed to balance voltages and power flows across the electricity distribution system, potentially unlocking an additional 344 megawatts (MW) of power capacity locally. It is estimated that deploying such flexible power links across the UK could release 1.5 gigawatts of capacity by 2050.

“This innovative flexible power link application helps pave the way for the deployment of more intelligent and dynamic networks in the future,” said Oleg Aleinikov, Managing Director of ABB’s Grid Integration business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “The entire power value chain is seeing radical changes on the supply and demand side, calling for a more flexible and smarter grid, and ABB is enabling this through innovative technologies, as part of our Next Level strategy.”

The Network Equilibrium project will trial a 20 MW flexible power link to enable controlled transfer of power between two separate 33-kilovolt (kV) distribution network groups. ABB will provide and install a back-to-back static frequency converter (SFC) solution which allows power transfers across separate distribution grid groups.

The ABB solution will help balance generation and demand locally, while enabling additional capacity to be released more quickly and at significantly lower financial and environmental cost than the traditional reinforcement method of building new connections from each distribution network group back to the nearest primary substation.

Static Frequency Converters are part of ABB’s family of FACTS (flexible alternating current transmission systems) technologies, which help enhance the capacity and flexibility of power transmission systems and contribute to the evolution of smarter grids. ABB is a global leader in the growing field of FACTS, and has delivered more than 800 such installations across the world.

Western Power Distribution (WPD) is the distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West England and South Wales, and is responsible for delivering electricity to approximately 7.8 million customers in the UK, from the point of generation to homes and businesses.

ABB ( is a leading global technology company in power and automation that enables utility, industry, and transport & infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 135,000 people.