Why the growing renewable energy market should be concerned about subsea cable vulnerability

subsea cable vulnerability

As the world’s energy sources quickly shift towards renewables, wind farms are becoming a leading source of sustainable power. With many of these wind farms being located miles off shore, engineers depend on subsea cables to move power to and from the farms. When dealing with miles of cables, length, wear and tear, and improper usage all propose challenges.  Those reasons, coupled with the sheer pressure from the vast amounts of water, many things are bound to go wrong during the offshore engineering process of wind farms.

The facts about subsea cables:

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, subsea cables have to withstand 14.5 psi per every 10.05 meters into the ocean they are lowered.
  • Subsea cables are susceptible to accidental breakage by natural disasters, anchor damage, soil/erosion related damage, and damage from installation. Such mishaps snap cables about 100 times a year.
  • There are no agreed upon international or national standards for installing subsea cables.

Why does do all these issues matter? Subsea cable damage can put an entire wind farm out of service for months and can lead to damage to turbine equipment. A study done by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on Offshore Electrical Cable Burial for Wind Farms estimates that 70% of insurance claims for offshore wind farms come from some kind of damage or breakage to the subsea cables.

As the industry grows, so do the risks associated with these wind farms failing. Europe and Asia lead in wind energy production globally – Denmark itself uses wind power for almost 40% of Danish domestic electricity. The United States continues to grow in the market as well, with the U.S. Department of Energy reporting that by 2030, wind power could supply 20% of all U.S. electricity. This rapid growth emphasizes the need for more dependable offshore engineering solutions.

PMI has years of experience in the offshore industries and continues to develop innovative hardware solutions for subsea cables. Let us help you tackle your offshore project needs.

Read more about studies done by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement regarding Offshore Electrical Cable Burial for Wind Farms.

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