ABB is to develop an undersea HVDC power link between the Italian mainland and the island of Sardinia.

The $180 million contract, from Terna, the company which operates the Italian transmission network, will link the power grids of Sardinia at Fiume Santo and peninsular Italy at Latina with a 1,000 MW bipolar High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) line.

The contract calls for ABB to design and deliver two converter stations in existing 400 kV substations and air-insulated and gas-insulated switchgear. The twin power cables will stretch 420 km beneath the Tyrrhenian Sea at depths of up to 1,600m.

In addition to handling power exchange, the system can stabilise voltages and frequencies on Sardinia, says ABB. Samir Brikho, head of ABB’s power systems division added: “The system also contributes to the necessary upgrade of an expanded Europe’s transmission infrastructure by creating another interconnection to facilitate the exchange of electrical power.”

The first pole is due to be completed in 2008.