Telecommunications could hold key to reducing financial losses from power cable damage during construction of offshore wind farms

 

The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has launched a new global innovation competition to find and fund the development of innovative solutions to a challenge facing the offshore wind farm industry today: how to monitor the condition of subsea cables to ensure that they are not damaged during the load out and installation process. The competition aims to solve this challenge by identifying and supporting the development of novel condition monitoring systems for subsea cables.

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

Looking at £213 million in insurance losses from 28 UK offshore wind claims between 2002 and 2015, 68% 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. Developing a novel monitoring system could dramatically improve the reliability of offshore wind subsea cable systems by ensuring that the cables’ mechanical limits are not exceeded in real-time during load out, installation jointing and wind farm operation.

Jan Matthiesen, Director of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust, “Damage to cables during the installation of an offshore wind farm is unfortunately a common occurrence, which also results in unnecessary expenditure for the industry. The challenge we face is finding a cost-effective, easy to connect and operate, robust and reliable system which can be used to monitor the condition of subsea cables throughout the cable installation phase. Through this international innovation competition we are really interested in receiving applications from other industries around the world, which have capabilities in measuring and monitoring physical parameters that could result in cable damage. The telecommunications sector is of particular interest as it has dealt with similar challenges and we hope to receive some innovative ideas from companies working in this area”.

Based on recent experience submarine cable procurement costs will account for up to 7% of total capital expenditure when building an offshore wind farm, with cable installation costing another 4%.  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 developer partners are providing up to £225,000 to support successful innovative 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 programme, designed to impact the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from offshore wind by reducing costs, improving efficiency and availability of existing and future offshore wind farms. The OWA is a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers representing 76% 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 competition formally opened on the 10th January and closes on the 13th February 2017. Applicants can access full details of the competition at: https://www.carbontrust.com/about-us/tenders/offshore-wind-accelerator-cable-condition-assessment-competition.

About the Offshore Wind Accelerator

Set up in 2008, the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) aims to reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind by concentrating on five research areas: foundations; wake effects; electrical systems; and access and cable installations. OWA activities include research, development and demonstration projects to unlock technological barriers to advance the industry.

 

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent, expert partner of leading organisations around the world, helping them contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future.

·         We advise businesses, governments and the public sector on their opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world.

·         We measure and certify the environmental footprint of organisations, supply chains and products.

·         We develop and deploy low carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.

We have about 170 staff of 30 different nationalities, based in the UK, China, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and the USA. The Carbon Trust’s experts come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, including engineering, business, policy and academia.

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