News release

Southampton’s High Voltage Lab secures its largest ever commercial testing contract

Ref: 13/08

15 January 2013

Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory

The Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory (TDHVL) at the University of Southampton has been awarded its largest ever contract for commercial testing by Centrica Plc., for a series of tests on a 27m section of 132kV offshore wind farm export cable.

Work has now commenced on the three-month long test programme and recently, the supplied cable section was energised with a 1000 Amps per phase for the first time.

The wet design cable is being initially tested under dry conditions to determine its thermal properties and leakage/loss currents under controlled conditions. Obtained values will then be used to validate cable models that will provide information on the thermal rating of the export cable connection from the offshore substation to dry land. This will allow the investigation of potential limiting factors that may reduce the overall ampacity of the connection.

Professor Paul Lewin, from Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University, says: “This is extremely important work for the UK offshore wind farm industry as a whole. The outcomes from this testing programme could ultimately lead to improved international standards for the rating of offshore wind farm export cable circuits.”

“The expertise of the University of Southampton in terms of high voltage cable ratings is well known and the results and analysis of the testing programme may lead to a reduction in the required number of export cables in the seabed. This could significantly reduce the costs associated with construction of offshore wind farms, a vital contribution to the viability of future projects,” adds Simon Catmull, Project Engineer for Centrica.

The cable is too large for testing within the laboratory and instead is being tested on the dockside of the University’s waterfront campus. “We are very grateful for the excellent support of everyone at NOCS,” says Neil Palmer, TDHVL Laboratory Manager. “Their assistance in planning the work and ensuring that we can meet the test programme requirements has been outstanding.”