Tech company Synaptec has collaborated with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in a project to reduce both the high costs of subsea cable failures and the instrumentation systems required to monitor them all.

Synaptec’s unique Refase™ technology will be installed at ORE Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife in a year long trial to establish the cost savings and long-term benefits of using distributed, passive sensors to monitor cable performance.

The new collaboration is a continuation of a fruitful relationship between ORE Catapult and Synaptec, and the support of the former was a significant factor in the recent announcement of a £2.9 million investment which included backing from Williams Advanced Engineering.

Subsea cable failures and their resulting outages continue to be a priority area for improvement for the industry, although array cable faults are less well understood than export cable failures.

Based on ORE Catapult published data for 2018, recorded cable failures in UK projects have led to lost generation equating to almost £250m of lost revenue. Array cable faults represent 12% of recorded cable failures, with the potential loss of revenue up to £70,000 per day due to loss of generation and repair activities.

The joint project aims to reduce those costs significantly by automating the response to cable faults and developing long-term prognostics capabilities to improve operations and maintenance cost, through power quality and dynamic line rating data streamed from up to 50 locations per system.

Both organisations hope the installation will open the door to a greater understanding of all power cable faults and demonstrate the potential of Synaptec’s technology platform as a long-term automated asset management system, as well as an improved protection system, that will deliver millions of pounds in capital and operational cost savings for the offshore wind industry.

Saul Matthews, head of business development at Synaptec, said:

“You can’t manage if you can’t measure, so affordable visibility and control of remote offshore assets is urgently needed to drive down cost and make clean energy more affordable. Our work with ORE Catapult at Levenmouth will show that transmission-grade distributed sensor systems like this are the best way to address the industry’s single largest operating cost – cable failures.”

Audrey Bowie, ORE Catapult’s project manager, added:

“As the UK’s offshore wind installed capacity continues to grow, towards at least 30 GW by 2030 and potentially 75 GW by 2050, so does the need for developing reliable, high-capacity transmission cable technologies. Subsea power cable failure is a real issue for offshore wind operators, making up at least 75% of the total cost of offshore wind insurance claims. The Catapult is committed to working with companies like Synaptec to develop and implement new technologies and processes aimed at reducing cable failures, and, through facilities such as our Levenmouth Turbine, provide a platform for the demonstration and validation of these technologies.”