Hybrid AC/DC OHL

Hybrid AC / DC OHL is a technology used to increase the transmission capacity of existing mainly AC OHLs through converting an existing AC circuit into a DC circuit. This also creates a bypass to the AC grid with better power flow control.

Technology Types

The major factors in the design of hybrid AC / DC OHL are the internal and external air clearances as well as emissions (noise, electric and magnetic field, ions). Depending on those factors, the voltage rating and design of DC system can be achieved. The hybrid AC / DC OHL use the same components as pure AC or pure DC lines. Although there are no special requirements concerning the conductors and towers, the insulators should be designed for hybrid AC / DC voltage stress.

Components & enablers

  • Towers
  • Conductors
  • Insulators

Advantages & field of application

Due to the need for new transmission line capacity and public concerns about the erection of new transmission lines, increasing transmission capacity by converting one of the existing HVAC lines to HVDC may be an interesting option.

The conversion of existing OHL can be done by the replacement of insulators only and by keeping the conductors and towers as they are. How-ever, the maximum operating voltage must be chosen properly to maintain the given internal and external electric clearances and avoid corona associated levels of noise and ionisation of air.

Technology Readiness Level

2020: TRL 7

2025: TRL 9

2030: TRL 9

Research & Development

Current fields of research: Hybrid AC/DC corona effects, insulator design.

Other: Long term full-scale outdoor pilot projects are necessary to conclusively verify the theoretical developed approaches.

Best practice performance

Maximum capacity: Based on the Ultranet project, an increase of transmission capacity of approximately 10 – 20% can be expected. This results in ca. 2200 MW per converted 380 kV circuit.

Voltage rating: 420 kV

Current rating: 2.7 kA

Best practice application

North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg, Germany

planned for 2021

An existing 3-phase HVAC OHL will be converted to a bipolar HVDC system on the same tower. Converter stations are built at either end of the transmission line.

Full Bridge Technology converters will be applied based on requirements concerning fast clearing of inter-system faults, frequent performance of auto-reclosing actions and better reactive power support to the AC system.

The project is making use of the existing pylons to increase the capacity of the network in an efficient and resource-friendly way.


[1] ETH Zurich, Dr. Martin Pfeiffer. Ion-Flow Environment of HVDC and Hybrid AC/DC Overhead Lines. [Link]

[2] ABB. Feasibility study for converting 380 kV AC lines to hybrid AC / DC lines. [Link]

[3] Amprion. Project Description: Ultranet. [Link]

[4] Transnet BW. New technology to make power transmission more secure. [Link]

[5] Cigre. Guide to the conversion of existing AC lines to DC operation. Technical Brochures. 2014. [Link]

[6] Cigre. Impacts of HVDC lines on the economics of HVDC projects. Technical Brochures. 2009. [Link]