It is no secret that Renewable Energy Production is on the rise; in 2019 the UK’s energy output from renewable sources was more than eight times higher than in 2010. And due to increased capacity becoming online, for the first time ever, the majority share of this was generated by offshore wind. However, unsurprisingly, such ambitious growth is often hindered by the availability of private funds necessary for investment in the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of offshore wind. It has been shown by HVPD and others (in numerous published technical papers) that the only way to reduce O&M costs is by an operator having a diagnostic, intelligent overview of the complete high voltage (HV) Network, and providing optimal life extension.
Through our patented On-line Remote monitoring solution, HVPD are already a part of many renewable operator’s condition-based maintenance strategies
With its shallow seas and strong winds, the UK is a prime location for offshore wind farms. Since the UK’s first offshore wind farm was built twenty years ago in Blyth, offshore wind is now a large-scale commercial commodity and it has been estimated that by 2030, the industry could increase net exports by £7-18bn.
However, notoriously this technology suffers a higher-than-expected number of faults, most of these due to medium voltage (MV) and HV cable failures. These represent the majority of offshore wind farm insurance claims; installation and equipment cost of cables may make up only 9% of the total cost of a new wind farm, their failures account for 75-80% of insurance claims. Subsea MV and HV cables can fail due to several reasons, including installation errors, poor workmanship, or inadequate design and mechanical protection of the cable components for duty in the sea. Many of these failures occur at the weak points along the cables, such as the cable joints and terminations.
The biggest barrier to project deliverance is cost – from across all areas of the supply chain, but overwhelmingly the highest proportion comes from O&M which account for nearly 25% the total cost over a wind farm’s lifetime. To put a number on this, recent research carried out by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (2019), wind farm operators will spend nearly $15bn on operations and maintenance and of this amount, 57% ($8.5bn) will be spent on unplanned repairs and corrective actions.
To minimise these costs operators need accurate, detailed (real-time) information on the state, condition and performance of their HV networks. In order to maintain high reliability and significantly reduce O&M costs, HVPD’s patented continuous, On-line Partial Discharge (PD) monitoring solution can be implemented.
Continuous On-line PD monitoring systems provide advanced, early warnings against HV insulation faults to enable preventative maintenance to be carried out and to avert unplanned outages of the offshore HV networks. Proven benefits are:
- Reduction of capital and lifetime costs
- Reduction of operating costs (including maintenance and system losses);
- Increase in plant availability and thus revenue;
- Increase in both system and individual component reliability to reduce investment and insurance risks.
HVPD is the only PD monitoring company which will provide the operator with a complete overview of their HV network remotely, including subsea cables, but also transformers, generators and rotating machines with our patented PD monitoring solution.
RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal has highlighted the significance of PD monitoring:
“To keep costs down, the companies we represent recognise the paramount importance of investing in high-quality O&M services. Expenditure on O&M represents a major proportion of the lifetime costs of an offshore wind project. That’s why companies like HVPD are so important to our industry, helping us to maximise generation by avoiding electrical insulation faults, cutting downtime to an absolute minimum. The UK is the go-to destination for offshore wind expertise for the rest of the world, so we’re in a strong position to capitalise further on our global advantage in the decade ahead. Companies like HVPD will help to get us there”.
HVPD has a wealth of experience in On-line PD monitoring and testing for offshore wind farm operators in the UK after insulation failure and subsequent faults on inter-array and subsea export cables.