The world’s biggest ultra-high voltage line came into operation in China this year, involving a 1100 kilovolt direct current cable delivering 12 gigawatts of power across 3293 kilometres at a cost reported to be about $US5.9 billion ($8.6 billion).
A line to Singapore would be many times longer than any of the three HVDC cables in operation in Australia.
„It would be a stretch for the technology but there’s nothing to say at this point in time that it’s not feasible,“ said Bernard Norton, head of ABB Power Grids in Australia.
„It is certainly technology that can help connect our remote renewable resources to our load centres, be those load centres in Australia or potentially overseas.“
Mr Norton said he saw increased interconnection between the states as key to facilitate the transition to cleaner energy in the National Electricity Market, especially given the uncertainty around the shape of future energy consumption.
While the transmission planning system has been criticised as being too slow, Mr Norton said the complexity and cost of projects to connect NSW and South Australia, to upgrade NSW-Queensland links and for the connection of the Snowy 2.0 project meant that getting the planning right was more important.
But he added that technology was only part of what had to be done to allow for a successful transition to cleaner energy, noting that policy, the regulatory framework and commercial returns for investments were also part of the equation.
„All these elements need to be aligned; all are required to ensure we can develop our energy system and get to that low-carbon future we are all aiming for,“ he said. „We do need to arrive at a point where we do have a coherent energy policy.“
Mr Danieli pointed to two „mega trends“ taking place globally across the energy sector. The first, decarbonisation, was proceeding apace in Australia with the world-leading rise of renewables, although the „e-mobility“ trend was moving slower.
On the second, digitalisation, there was „probably more work to do“, he said in terms of using sensors to collect data that can help predict failures in parts of the network and increase the reliability of the grid as it shift towards intermittent wind and solar power.
„We are seeing developments in Australia but I think that digitalisation can definitely be pushed even more in this market, both in terms of digitalising substations as well as in terms of adding software which can make the network more stable and more capable,“ Mr Danieli said.