Industrial Electronics

Demand grows for deep-sea wire and cables

03 August 2022
An under-sea cable that is used to connect to offshore wind turbines. Source: AdobeStock

As offshore wind farms become more popular, the demand for high voltage direct current (HV+EHV) cables is on the rise. Leading experts believe that subsea HV+EHV cable demand is set to take off in the coming years, as more and more projects move into ever-deeper waters.

Manufacturers of these cables are now investing in new production facilities to meet this increasing demand and are also developing new technology to increase efficiency. This is great news for the marine industry, as it will help to drive down costs and make offshore wind installations even more competitive.

Opportunities of subsea cable

The high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology has been used to interconnect electric power grids since the 1950s. HVDC was initially used to overcome the limitation of alternating current (AC) systems in long-distance high-voltage transmission, due to differences in electrical grid frequencies between countries or regions.

HVDC cables are more expensive than AC counterpart conductors for a given voltage and power rating. This is because the specialized converter stations are required at each end of an HVDC cable, and these are more expensive than the AC transformers used in AC systems. The converter stations also require a sophisticated control and protection system, as well as a DC circuit breaker (which is different from an AC circuit breaker).

In recent years, there has been a trend toward using HVDC for subsea cables, due to the increasing demand for power and the need to transmit electricity over longer distances.

Here are some of the main areas where significant growth in subsea cable demand is expected.

Land and island connections

There are many benefits to using HV+EHV subsea cables, including their efficiency, flexibility and scalability. Additionally, they are much less expensive than traditional land-based transmission lines. As a result, HV+EHV subsea cables are expected to play a major role in meeting the world’s growing energy needs.

The use of HV+EHV subsea cables is particularly well suited to connecting islands and other remote locations with the mainland. This is because these cables can be installed quickly and easily, without the need for expensive and time-consuming infrastructure development. Additionally, HV+EHV subsea cables are less likely to be damaged by earthquakes or other natural disasters than traditional land-based transmission lines.

There are many potential markets for HV+EHV subsea cables, including countries with large island chains (such as Japan) or those with a large number of remote island communities (such as Indonesia). In addition, there is significant potential for growth in the market for HV+EHV subsea cables in developing countries, where the demand for energy is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

Offshore wind power

With the increase in renewable energy projects, there is a need for longer and more reliable subsea cable routes to connect these resources to the grid. For example, the planned Dogger Bank Wind Farm in the North Sea will be one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms and will require subsea cables to connect the turbines to onshore substations.

Similarly, there is growing interest in using subsea cables to connect offshore wind farms to each other, as this can create a more efficient and reliable system. This is known as an “interconnector.”

In addition, the development of “smart grids” is another driver for the HV+EHV subsea cable market. Smart grids are power networks that use digital technology to deliver electricity more efficiently and reliably. They can also provide two-way communication between utilities and consumers and allow for the integration of renewable energy resources.

The implementation of smart grids is increasing globally, driven by government policies and regulations. This is expected to increase the demand for HV+EHV subsea cables, as they will be needed to connect offshore wind farms and other renewable energy resources to the grid.

Oil and gas power from shore and umbilicals

The oil and gas industry is evolving. With the rise of renewables, the sector is under pressure to decarbonize. While many oil and gas companies are investing in renewables, they are also looking for new ways to use less carbon-intensive forms of energy.

One option that is gaining popularity is using power from shore (PFS) or subsea umbilicals to supply offshore oil and gas platforms. PFS reduces greenhouse gas emissions by using cleaner onshore power generation, while umbilicals can connect a platform to an onshore renewable energy source.

Using PFS and umbilicals can help oil and gas companies meet their decarbonization goals, but it also presents a huge opportunity for the subsea cable market. PFS and umbilical projects are complex and require high-voltage, high-capacity cables.

PFS and umbilical projects present a significant opportunity for cable manufacturers and installers. The cable market is currently dominated by a few large players, but there is room for smaller companies to enter the market and capture a share of the growing PFS and umbilical market.

Summary

The global market for subsea HV+EHV cables is set to take off in the next few years. This offers opportunities for companies with the right skills and technology to tap into this growing market. There are many potential applications for these cables, including connecting land-based infrastructure and offshore wind farms. Oil and gas production is another area where subsea HV+EHV cables could play a role, providing power from shore as well as umbilicals to wells and platforms.



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