The University of Southampton

Tony Davies High Voltage Lab secure contract to test a 132kV offshore wind farm export cable for Centrica plc.

Published: 9 January 2013

Centrica Plc. invited the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory (TDHVL) to tender for a series of tests on a 27m section of 132kV offshore wind farm export cable and subsequently awarded the laboratory with its largest ever contract for commercial testing. Work has commenced on the three month long test programme and on the 7th December the supplied cable section was energized with a 1000 Amps per phase for the first time.

The cable is too large for testing within the laboratory and instead is being tested on the dockside of the University’s waterfront campus, “We are very grateful for the excellent support of everyone at NOCS,” said Neil Palmer, TDHVL Laboratory Manager, “their assistance in planning the work and ensuring that we can meet the test programme requirements has been outstanding”. The collaboration between the TDHVL and The National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS) is largely as a result of the formation of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI) as it was through this process that TDHVL became aware of the facilities and expertise available at the waterfront campus.

The wet design cable is being initially tested under dry conditions to determine its thermal properties and leakage/loss currents under controlled conditions. Obtained values will then be used to validate cable models that will provide information on the thermal rating of the export cable connection from the offshore substation to dry land. This will allow the investigation of potential limiting factors that may reduce the overall ampacity of the connection.

“This is extremely important work for the UK offshore wind farm industry as a whole”, said Professor Paul Lewin “the outcomes from this testing programme could ultimately lead to improved international standards for the rating of offshore wind farm export cable circuits.”

“The expertise of the University of Southampton in terms of high voltage cable ratings is well known and the results and analysis of the testing programme may lead to a reduction in the required number of export cables in the seabed. This could significantly reduce the costs associated with construction of offshore wind farms, a vital contribution to the viability of future projects.” said Simon Catmull, Project Engineer for Centrica.

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