The one megavolt challenge: Not only solved by new materials

Stanislaw Gubanski
Researcher, Advisor


The development of the electrical power transmission faces great challenges. Only for Europe the investments are estimated to billions of euro during the next ten years. A quarter of this investment is calculated for cables used for high voltage direct current, since these linkages will play an important role for the development of the transmission capacity. With today’s technology a cable with polymer isolation reaches a transmission voltage level of 320 kV. The need of larger and longer transmission capacity are constantly increasing and is crucial for the development of a common electricity market in Europe and for the connection to other continent’s grids.

Stanislaw Gubanski is professor in high voltage engineering at the Department of Materials and Manufacturing Technology at Chalmers. He and his fellow researchers, Ulf Gedde and Christian Müller on polymer technology side, work on innovative solutions within applications of different materials for the next generation high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables. Together with a dozen actors in the electro-technical industry they are aiming for a polymer isolated cable for direct current operating at one million volt (1000 kV). This would not only open for broader transnational transmission, but also include large scale use of electricity from renewable sources such as solar, off-shore wind, and wave power.

To lead and be led

“The cooperation with industry gives us information that otherwise would have been difficult to get, such as different practical aspects, Stanislaw Gubanski says. 

The reference groups attached to all the on-going research projects enable effective knowledge transfer in both directions between industry and academia. The purpose of these groups is to keep the research projects relevant for stakeholders. It is also a platform for Stanislaw Gubanski and his colleagues to give advice to their partners on their issues.

A few patents have been filed on new materials for cable insulation, but this is an experience Stanislaw Gubanski is not fully comfortable with.

“Industry usually has a stronger interest than researchers  in patentable inventions. Going from research results to patentable inventions demands other types of development. Such work is important for them, but is usually not interesting from a research point of view”, he says.

Stanislaw Gubanski's view is that if the industry pay for the research, they should have the possibility to develop the results. But if they only are part in a research project granted with governmental funding, it is better to make all the results public.

Engaged for guidance

Focusing on IP ownership would in general disadvantage collaboration with industry, Stanislaw Gubanski believes.

“Contribution to secure and reliable electric power transmission rather finds its ways via standardisations and policy work for the industry,” he says.

With his good reputation in the field and great engagement in organisation such as International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE), and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), organisations gathering representatives from both industry and academy, working on branch specific issues, formulating guide-lines and common recommendations, he concludes:

“I think that makes a larger impact than patents.”


Text: Niklas Fernqvist

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Published: Tue 20 May 2014. Modified: Wed 13 Jan 2016