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Windtech International May June 2024 issue

 

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The offshore wind industry is increasing array voltage from 66kV to 132kV, to enable larger turbines, reduce cost and ultimately help meet global climate demands. This increase in array voltage will: 
  • Enable more efficient power collection for future wind farms globally 
  • Reduce the length of cables in the offshore wind farm  
  • Less cable will lower costs and environmental footprints 
  • Facilitate the next generation of offshore wind turbines. 
 
The industry’s last voltage shift began in 2010, when the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) - Carbon Trust’s research, development and deployment programme, in collaboration with nine offshore wind developers - drove the change from 33kV to 66kV. This allowed 8-12MW turbines to be installed and was considered a key factor in offshore wind’s success. Since then, the industry has grown rapidly in both wind farm and turbine size. It is predicted this next jump to 132kV will lead to significant cost savings, which will help the industry scale up to 250GW by 2030.  As an example, for a 1200MW wind farm, cost savings are predicted to be in the range of £32M to £50M relative to the equivalent 66kV system. 
 
The 132kV conclusion was drawn from a recent project conducted by the OWA. In 2020 the OWA prioritised the need to find a voltage that would accommodate the growing size of both turbines and windfarms, leading to the creation of the High Voltage Array Systems (Hi-VAS) project. The partners are EnBW, Equinor, Ørsted, Ocean Winds, RWE, ScottishPower Renewables, Shell, SSE Renewables, TotalEnergies and Vattenfall.  The project was delivered by Carbon Trust, TNEI, Petrofac, Orient Cable and Hellenic Cables. Hi-VAS engaged with over 70 different organisations, including suppliers, energy system operators, marine planners, policy makers and international regulators.  Building on the input received from these stakeholders, the project conducted a series of engineering studies to assess a range of possible future array voltages, and how they would impact wind farm design. 
 
Of all the voltages considered, 132kV had the best cost-benefit ratio, and the lowest risk profile. The conclusion of 132kV has been strength tested with the developer consortium and the wider industry stakeholder network and has received unanimous support. The project found 132kV wind farms will be operational by the end of the 2020s at the earliest, and even this timing is dependent on significant proactive work to be carried out by developers and supply chain.
 
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