The issues surrounding financial losses related to the installation and maintenance of offshore power cables are having a negative impact on the offshore wind industry around the world.
A recent article in industry leading publication Recharge mentioned “that about 80% of total paid claims related to offshore wind farms stem directly from cable-related issues.”
Installing all types of cable offshore is a mature practice which has been accomplished since the 1850’s however the scale, density and volume of cable installation resulting from the expansion of offshore wind around the world has brought to the market many project developers, EPC’s, financiers, insurers, permitting authorities, installers and related supply chain product and service suppliers with limited experience in understanding how to plan for and accommodate the risk inherent in operating an offshore cable plant over the lifecycle of an offshore wind-farm or interconnector.
Here is a good high level list of issues to be accounted for in any offshore cable installation project: site specific seabed conditions, water depth, weather, inshore landings, permitting constraints, installation technique, vessel selection, installation equipment, proposed route conditions, environmental considerations along route, supply chain constraints, site logistics constraints, survey data quality, burial depth targets, known marine life, prior users at site, cable crossings, and cable protection.
150+ years of cable installation experience has shown that if a project is planned properly these issues related to cable installation can be largely avoided if best practices in project planning are followed. Of course, one of the most effective ways to institute best practices starts with project planning. It is a lack of a sophisticated understanding of the risk associated with the installation, operations and maintenance of an offshore transmission system during the planning stages of a project which is the root of the problems seen to date.