66-kV offshore renewables test-lab upgrade aims to cut wind farm costs

The resonant transformer in ORE Catapult’s HV electrical lab
The resonant transformer in ORE Catapult’s HV electrical lab

The Glasgow-based UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) has upgraded its UKAS-accredited high voltage (HV) electrical laboratory – providing enhanced testing capability unique in the UK – and paving the way for an industry shift from 33 kV to 66 kV for future offshore wind inter-array electrical systems. 

Stepping up turbine array systems in offshore wind farms to 66 kV will have a dramatic impact on the sector, enabling increased offshore power density, lower operational losses, fewer offshore collector substations and resulting reductions in the levelised cost of energy.

Ultimately, this move is essential for the development of larger offshore wind power parks which will use larger capacity offshore wind turbines. 

The upgrade to the adjustable HV reactor involved introducing an automated control system and increasing the power rating of the 600 kV resonant transformer, in collaboration with Doble PowerTest, to 150 kW of power.

This now means that the reactor has both the required high voltage and power capacity to carry out automated step-breakdown testing of 66 kV cable systems using water terminations.

Alex Neumann, OREC Asset & Business Development Manager, explained: “This upgrade represents a significant step-up for the HV laboratory, allowing the business to provide a unique service to the market.

“This new service enables the cost-effective development of new technology and complements the accelerated lifetime test work that we have developed with our clients to fast-track their product’s development and availability.”

Jeremy Featherstone, Product Development Director, JDR Cables, commented: “This enhancement has played a significant role in supporting our development programme, allowing us to better predict the expected lifetime of the power cable, as well as validate and qualify its design.

“This capability will allow us to move to 66kV inter-array power supply which is a key driver to ensuring future offshore renewable energy development is cost-effective and reliable.”

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