Competition to Improve Wind Farm Cabling

offshore wind farm power cable

By MarEx 2017-01-10 16:27:37

The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has launched a global competition to find and fund the development of improved monitoring systems for the condition of subsea cables that ensure that they are not damaged during the load out and installation process. 

Current available solutions are not able to detect and monitor mechanical cable limits with the required accuracy, so the OWA is searching for new ideas from complementary industries such as telecommunications, civil engineering, automotive and oil and gas which could be adapted for subsea cable application.

Damage to cables during the installation of an offshore wind farm is a common occurrence, which results in unnecessary expenditure for the industry. Of £213 million ($260 million) in insurance losses from 28 U.K. offshore wind claims between 2002 and 2015, 68 percent were directly due to cable faults occurring predominately during the construction phase. 

Condition monitoring techniques used during the installation process have the potential to reduce instances of these faults, as they can be used to monitor the cable condition and detect potential issues before they develop into failures.
Jan Matthiesen, Director of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust, said: “Based on recent experience submarine cable procurement costs will account for up to seven percent of total capital expenditure when building an offshore wind farm, with cable installation costing another four percent. Longer cable lengths and more challenging conditions in sites further from shore, as well as new innovations such as floating turbines, will all increase the demand for cable condition monitoring during installation in the rapidly expanding offshore wind industry.”

The competition entries will be assessed by an expert panel from the OWA. The Scottish Government and the nine OWA industry partners are providing up to £225,000 ($275,000) to support successful concepts. Concepts that show the most promise could also receive further funding to take them to full-scale demonstration.

The OWA is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative research, development and deployment program, designed to impact the levelized cost of energy (LCoE) from offshore wind by reducing costs, improving efficiency and availability. 

The OWA is a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers representing 76 percent of Europe’s installed capacity, and backed by the Scottish Government. Current industry partners are DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, innogy, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall.

The OWA program, originally created in 2008, has been a driving force behind a range of new innovations such as: developing and demonstrating new foundations; the development and adoption of 66kV cabling; improving wind resource measurement and modelling and new access vessels. 

Following a record year for installations in 2015 the European Wind Energy Association estimates that over 20GW of offshore wind will be deployed in Europe by 2020.