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The impact of HVDC innovations on the power industry
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Entrepreneurship and innovation.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the potential impact of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) innovations on the power industry. A short historical review is provided on the so-called ‘War of the Currents’, which has placed alternating current (AC) as the dominant platform for power transmission. The revival of DC in high voltage transmission is here examined as a reverse salient, as various indicators show that the role of HVDC in the power industry seems to be constantly growing. In this thesis the potential of HVDC to drive industrial change is put to question, and an effort is made to define that change; questions are being addressed such as ‘how likely is HVDC to gain a more important role in power transmission, and what may that role be?’ and ‘how may the power market look like after a wider implementation of HVDC in power systems?’. The competition between ABB and Siemens (and at a lower level Alstom), market leaders in HVDC technologies, is analyzed with specific regard to the pursuit of inventing a HVDC circuit breaker; a technological leap that has been considered necessary for overcoming a number of obstacles to creating a DC grid. As of November 2012, ABB has developed the world’s first HVDC circuit breaker, acknowledged as a technological breakthrough. An attempt is being made to evaluate the impact of this innovation in terms of enhancing ABB’s entrepreneurial activity and granting the company with a competitive edge. Furthermore, the vision of developing DC grids – and thus R&D investments for the invention of a HVDC circuit breaker – is approached as a case of climate change being a main driving force for innovation, since this novel invention promises to make easier the integration of more renewable energy sources in power systems. This co-evolution of environment policy and innovation strategy is examined under the scope of Erik Dahmén’s theory of development blocks. Finally, ABB’s recent innovation is considered a disturbance in the system capable of bringing implications on the market that are here interpreted as a case of creative destruction, based upon Schumpeter’s terminology. In the conclusion section possible threats for Siemens and Alstom are also realized, and the need for them is questioned to go through changes in order to remain competitive, a situation that is here regarded as a case of transformation pressure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 29 p.
Examensarbete INDEK, 2013:66
Keyword [en]
HVDC, transformation pressure, development blocks, creative destruction, reverse salient, innovation
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123508OAI: diva2:626845
Educational program
Master of Science - Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
Available from: 2013-06-17 Created: 2013-06-10 Last updated: 2013-06-17Bibliographically approved

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