Boost for 66kV offshore cabling

The UK Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has awarded funds to three cable manufacturers to commercialise 66kV intra-array cables.

The body said the move could help cut offshore wind costs by 1.5%, or the equivalent of to up to £100m ($171.6m) per year, compared to existing 33kV systems.

The three cable manufacturers – the UK's JDR, French cabling giant Nexans and Italian group Prysmian – will each be receiving £133,000.

JDR will qualify a 3-core 630mm, copper conductor, wet design, 66kV cable and Nexans a 3-core 630mm aluminium conductor, dry design.

Prysmian will qualify a 3-core 800mm aluminium conductor, 66kV cable.

"Moving to 66kV intra-array networks offers a great opportunity to cut costs in time for Round 3 offshore wind farms," says Megan Smith, electrical systems project manager for the OWA.

"But cable manufacturers were unwilling to invest in the certification process of a new cost-effective 66kV cable without knowing if there is demand, and developers can't specify a new array cable voltage when cables are not yet certified," she adds.

Test results from all four cables will be available in 2015 says the OWA, with extended test programmes for some cable prototypes expected to be complete by 2017.