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The modular multilevel converter (MMC) is a newly introduced switch-mode converter topology with the potential for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission applications. This paper focuses on the dynamic performance of an MMC-based, back-to-back HVDC system. A phase-disposition (PD) sinusoidal pulsewidth modulation (SPWM) strategy, including a voltage balancing method, for the operation of an MMC is presented in this paper. Based on the proposed PD-SPWM switching strategy, a mathematical model for the MMC-HVDC system, under both balanced and unbalanced grid operation modes, is developed. Dynamic performance of the MMC-based back-to-back HVDC converter system, based on time-domain simulation studies in the PSCAD/EMTDC environment, is then evaluated. The reported time-domain simulation results show that based on the adopted PD-SPWM switching strategy, the MMC-HVDC station can respond satisfactorily to the system dynamics and control commands under balanced and unbalanced conditions while maintaining voltage balance of the dc capacitors.