Renewable UK interview with Jack Simpson

Excerpt from Renewable UK Project Intelligence Cables 2018 Report, 31 October 2018, replicated under permission. Click to download the abridged document.

Interview by Renewable UK.

Can you say a few words about Tekmar and its business operations?

Tekmar is a market leading provider of subsea protection technology for the global offshore energy market. We are most well-known for our cable protection systems (CPS), which protect the subsea power cables as they enter and exit offshore wind turbine foundations.

You supplied cable protection systems to the first 66kV wind farm at the Blyth Demonstrator project. Can you describe any key challenges and learnings that you faced with regards to working on this higher voltage cable?

66kV cables were new to Tekmar and the whole industry before the Blyth Demonstrator project. The new cable technology had however undergone significant testing and verification before going offshore, with manufacturers such as Nexans and JDR now have fully type tested 66kV cables which naturally leads to a greater degree of confidence. For Tekmar we carried out a full verification of our CPS to ensure that our systems would protect these new cables for the full 25-year service life. We were delighted that the project was very successful, proving not only the new cable designs, but also the innovative Gravity Base foundation. Since then Tekmar have gone onto supplying CPS on two further 66kV projects; Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm and East Angila ONE.

What are your views on projects selecting 66kV cables?

We see this as a very positive step for the future of offshore wind, one which supports the overall cost reduction of future projects.

Do you think that more projects will be selecting 66kV cables? What would be the main reasons for selecting this option?

Yes, as turbines get larger and more powerful it makes more and more sense to select 66kV over the traditional 33kV. If you double the voltage, you double the power meaning you can have more turbines (MW’s) in a string. More turbines in a string means less links back to the substation, which results in overall less cable length required and reduced cost.

You undertook work on the Formosa 1 Phase 1 project in Taiwan. Can you explain the work that you undertook for this project?

Tekmar executed the full design, engineering, testing, training and manufacturing scope for CPS on the Formosa 1 Phase 1 project. We did this in line with the proven methods we use from over 60 Offshore Windfarm projects in Europe.

What challenges did you face with regards to winning this work in a country that has just begun the development of its offshore wind sector?

In Taiwan our customer was new to Offshore Wind and CPS. We provided a lot of guidance and best practice, working closely with the domestic cable installer Woen Jinn Harbour to support in the installation of the CPS. The installation of the CPS was a great success.

Apart from Taiwan, do you see any other countries that are now entering the offshore wind sector that will require your services?

Yes, Tekmar is very excited for the future of Offshore Wind as it becomes truly globalised, and more than just as a means of decarbonisation. With the significant cost reduction seen over the last few years, it becomes as much of an economic decision than an environmental one. Outside of Europe, Tekmar have already delivered to projects in the USA, China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Cable faults for offshore windfarms can account for great financial losses for developers. In your view, why are these faults occurring and what can be done to reduce the occurrence of failures?

When an industry is new, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. However, Offshore Wind has now been going for a number of years and with over 22GW of capacity installed globally, there is an ever-increasing understanding of risk areas and the best way to do things. New guidelines have also been written to capture some of this best practice, such as the DNVGL-RP-0360 which Tekmar participated in. However if a cable failure does occur, what is key is a timely repair as one of the biggest costs is not the repair but in fact the lost revenue. A quicker repair will lead to reduced losses to the developers. We have seen companies such as Boskalis and DeepOcean make big steps in this area with their repair initiatives which shows the industry is evolving.

Do you have any further comments or insights about the offshore wind cables market that you would like to add?

In addition to the globalisation of the Offshore Wind project locations, we have seen further globalisation of supply chain. European manufacturers (such as Tekmar and JDR) suppling into Asia, and Asian manufacturers suppling into Europe. This leads to an increase in global knowledge sharing, as well as increased competition which in turn can lead to reducing overall cost. It is however key to ensure quality is maintained and “true cost” is always considered.

Tekmar Energy Limited are one of Tekmar Group plc’s three primary operating companies, in addition to Subsea Innovation Limited and AgileTek Engineering Limited.

Tekmar Group’s vision is to become the partner of choice for the supply and installation support of subsea protection equipment to the global offshore energy markets.

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