European Inventor Award 2015 for Gunnar Asplund (Sweden)

Swedish engineer Gunnar Asplund has helped hide away much of a power grids’ infrastructure. At the same time, he’s boosted the efficiency of transmitting electricity from remote power stations, making renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, a more viable option. Through his decades of work in High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission, he developed a voltage source converter (VSC) that simplifies the integration of AC and DC power infrastructure. This has made transmission of high voltage direct current more efficient and enabled a wider range of power  ̶  from a mere trickle all the way to several gigawatts  ̶  to be transferred over the same cable infrastructure.

For more than a century, alternating current (AC) has been the de facto power standard for high voltage electricity transmission. It owes its popularity to the fact that it can be easily converted to different voltages for both residential and industrial power consumers. However, AC isn’t entirely ideal. The currency suffers from higher power losses over longer distances and higher costs. The tangible result is that more power lines are needed to carry less electricity. 

Through his decades of work in High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission, Swedish electrical engineer Gunnar Asplund has helped rid landscapes of the power-line eyesore by replacing overhead lines with underground cables and put direct current power on a more equal footing.  

More information: ABB