AREVA's T&D division (Paris, France) has been awarded a 25-million euro contract in Canada to build the world's first high-voltage direct current (HVDC)-based de-icing and power-quality system. The turnkey contract is with Hydro-Québec, the state-owned utility in the Canadian province of Quebec. Hydro-Québec's power network contains 32,000 miles (51,500 km) of transmission lines, includes more than 500 high-voltage substations and is connected to 15 power grids located outside the province.

To optimize the security of its power grid, Hydro-Québec has contracted AREVA T&D to build and install HVDCice, a transmission line de-icing system based on HVDC technology. During ice storms that struck Quebec in 1998, hundreds of kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines and thousands of transmission towers collapsed from an accumulation of ice, leaving millions without electricity. AREVA's HVDCice will generate up to 7200 A of direct current in the transmission lines, increasing their temperature so that ice melts and falls off.

The HVDCice system will be implemented at the Lévis Substation, a major connection point for the transmission lines of the province. At the heart of the HVDCice will be AREVA's latest thyristor valve, currently being implemented in the Konti-Skan HVDC project that is linking the power systems of Denmark and Sweden. When not in use for de-icing purposes, the HVDCice system will act as a static VAR compensator (SVARC). The SVARC will stabilize the voltage on the 735-kV power grid, which fluctuates depending on the amount of electricity being consumed.

AREVA T&D will work closely with the engineering and construction company SNC-Lavalin (Montreal, Québec), who will supervise the civil works, coordinate with the subcontractors and carry out engineering studies. AREVA's system, which will cover approximately 600 km (323 miles) of transmission lines, will be operational by the fall of 2006.