LOC Renewables, a part of LOC Group, an international marine and engineering consulting firm, recently brought together a group of leading cable designers, underwriters and installers to discuss new approaches to reducing risk in the cable lay arena. The symposium, “Reducing Risk in Offshore Wind Cables”, held in London, let delegates to hold an open discussion of the state of the industry and share expertise to guide industry best practices and procedures in future projects.
With an ever-expanding network of underwater cables delivering power from offshore wind projects, cable faults continue to account for the majority of insurance claims in the industry. Together, inter-array and export cabling account for almost half of all losses, due to mishandling during installation and in-situ damage.
As offshore wind farm cabling has grown from a few kilometers to hundreds of kilometers per farm, fresh engineering challenges have arisen: not only must the cables be deployed safely, but any problems are more difficult and expensive to repair.
LOC Renewables representatives elaborated on how modern engineering solutions are rising to the fore as a way to address such logistical problems. Roberto Longo of Longitude, an LOC Renewables company, discussed how the evolution of the industry has been accompanied by technological advances, which now allow dynamic analysis to assess the range of scenarios faced when laying cables. In the future, real-time simulations may lead to ever more effective ways to assess factors such as load and weather events to anticipate the stresses faced by cables.
Supporting cable-lay operations is the marine warranty surveyor, who, as Project Director Mike McLachlan described, can act as a sounding board for resolving installation issues and implementing new technology. By ensuring that projects remain within acceptable levels of risk, marine warranty survey allows new technologies and ideas to be implemented effectively and safely to maximize their value to the project.
To encourage a collaborative approach to cable risk reduction, the event also featured talks from a pool of experts who shared knowledge on insurance, manufacturing, operation, installation and repair. The variety of presentations covered technical, project management, and financial details of each stage of offshore cabling, alongside the wider industry context and the new challenges posed to cable installers by the development of floating wind.
“Cables, both inter-array and export, are essential for the offshore wind sector, but historically have experienced a high failure rate,” said LOC Group Joint-CEO, Dr RV Ahilan. “LOC have supported many repair operations in recent years and have built a significant experience base. In order to improve cable resilience the industry needs a strong forum where it can share and assess the best ideas for reducing cable failure risk, thereby ensuring the success of future offshore developments.”