ABB (www.abb.com) has commissioned switchgear rated to handle more than 1 million volts, touching new heights in terms of global voltage levels.

The ultrahigh-voltage (UHV) gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) has a switching capability of 6900 MW, which means it can turn power equivalent to the average electrical consumption of Switzerland, a country with more than 7 million inhabitants, on or off within milliseconds.

ABB successfully designed, tested and commissioned the GIS for a pilot project launched in 2006 by State Grid Corporation of China to demonstrate the feasibility of UHV ac power transmission.

The GIS is a central component of UHV electricity transmission designed to carry huge amounts of electricity over vast distances with very low losses. ABB completed the assignment in just two years with technology partner Xian Shiky (www.xianelectric.com). State Grid has announced plans to invest more than $14 billion in the next three to four years to expand its UHV network. UHV transmission reduces power losses and requires a smaller transmission corridor than conventional technologies. It is particularly suitable for countries like China, where energy resources are often far from the centers of power consumption.