Friday, February 23, 2024

World’s first subsea floating-wind power system goes on trial

Norwegian energy sector service provider Aker Solutions has signed a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract with the Marine Energy Test Centre (METCentre) in Norway to pilot new subsea power system technology, which has the potential to significantly reduce the costs and complexity of offshore wind farms.

As part of the project, Aker Solutions will provide the Subsea Collector for METCentre’s offshore wind test area, which currently has two floating offshore wind turbines located 10 kilometers off the southwestern coast of Karmøy, Norway. The test area will be expanded to seven floating offshore wind turbines starting in 2026.

Subsea Collector is a novel approach to connect multiple wind turbines electrically in a star configuration instead of the traditional daisy chain pattern, enabling more flexibility in offshore wind farm architecture and construction. The design also allows for reduced cable length per turbine and park and less vessel time and installation costs. Initial findings support total cost savings on a 1GW floating wind farm of up to 10%.

The Subsea Collector is composed of a 66kV wet mate connection system and subsea switchgear with supervisory control and data acquisition provided by Benestad and ABB, respectively. Windstaller Alliance, an alliance between Aker Solutions, DeepOcean, and Solstad Offshore, will carry out the installation. Aker Solutions will also provide the static export cable to shore.

“The Subsea Collector is a great example of true industry collaboration. Combining Aker Solutions’ vast subsea experience with our partner’s proven control and connection systems, we aim to solve challenges currently facing the offshore wind sector. We hope this project will result in a field-proven system that can benefit the industry for many years to come,” says Jo Kjetil Krabbe, executive vice president of Power Solutions at Aker Solutions.

After evaluating several alternative configurations for its new cable infrastructure, the METCentre decided to proceed with a pilot installation of Aker Solutions’ Subsea Collector to enable the expansion of the test site.

“This pioneering project will contribute to shaping the infrastructure in future large-scale floating wind parks. The technology is under development, and the project demonstrates how Norwegian subsea expertise from the oil and gas industry drives innovation forward within floating offshore wind on a global scale,” says CEO of METCentre and Norwegian Offshore Wind, Arvid Nesse.

This system has been developed based on the success of similar technologies in large installation projects and Aker Solutions’ experience in subsea power solutions. It has already been used in projects like Equinor’s Hywind Tampen for floating offshore wind.

“We are now building upon that expertise to develop equipment and technology for next-generation subsea power systems for more cost-efficient offshore wind developments,” added Krabbe.

The METCentre’s contribution to developing the Norwegian supply chain is set to be significant, especially with its reputation as a world-leading facility for testing marine renewable energy technologies. The Subsea Collector pilot project is aligned with METCentre’s commitment to driving innovation within floating offshore wind on a global scale.