Iberdrola seeks substation alternative

Spain’s Iberdrola has kicked off a €10m ($13.6m) project to hatch a novel low-budget design for offshore substations.

The developer’s engineering arm, Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción, is working with a group of Basque contractors through the government-backed Marin-El R&D programme to develop a “self-installing” concept that would "expedite installation and significantly reduce costs".

The new concept is based around floating hull with “a pre-equipped system to secure the unit to the seabed without the help of special installation vessels", instead using a spread of towing vessels to transport the substation, which collects production from wind farms and exports it to onshore grids.

By not needing a construction vessel such as a jack-up, the design avoids the associated costs as well as the “technical limitations” of these multi-legged units in water depths greater than 60 metres.

“The initiative … intends to offer an alternative to the existing substations, which are too bulky and heavy,” says Iberdrola. “This will in turn eliminate one of the main difficulties involved in the various offshore technologies used for generating electricity.”

“These types of offshore facilities have to meet increasingly demanding requirements, resulting not only from their expanding capacity but also from the need to manage reliable electricity production and minimize losses caused by the distance to the coast.”

The Iberdrola-led consortium includes contractors Ingeteam, Ormazábal, Arteche and Basque shipyard Construcciones Navales del Norte.

The Marin-el project is slated to run to the end of next year.