North East firm builds world-first cable test rig to improve subsea cable performance
North East engineering specialist Osbit Ltd has developed a bespoke, state-of-the-art cable bend fatigue test rig for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult that will support the development, and improve the performance and reliability, of subsea cables.
Northumberland-based Osbit designed and built the 15-tonne cable fatigue test rig to ORE Catapult’s specifications. With cable-related failures accounting for up to 80% of offshore wind project insurance claims, the rig enables the innovative testing of offshore array and subsea cables to improve their efficiency and resilience, supporting the development of next generation wind farms and associated electrical infrastructure.
The development of floating wind represents an important economic opportunity for UK companies in research and development, design and manufacturing – with 4GW of installed floating wind capacity expected by 2030, representing an annual market value of £3bn. The development and qualification of dynamic cables and connectors suitable for floating wind is crucial for the development of the sector, especially as these wind farms move further from shore and are subjected to harsher conditions. The offshore renewables’ sector has identified cables as a key area for technological improvement.
ORE Catapult’s facilities provide full-scale representative testing services to clients and partners, and this rig widens its cable test ability adding to the established high voltage (HV) and materials capabilities.
The rig was manufactured using the electrical, mechanical and hydraulic designs of north east firms including SWEL Engineering (Newburn), Metal Fabrication Systems (Sunnyside), Stockton Machine company (Teesside), North View Engineering (Darlington) and Durham Sheet Metal (South Shields), Its unique key features include:
- Testing up to three samples simultaneously.
- Testing while fully submerged in seawater.
- Performing electrical and mechanical testing simultaneously.
- Testing within a UKAS-accredited laboratory.
Brendon Hayward, Managing Director of Osbit, said “We are pleased to deliver a bespoke testing system to support ORE Catapult in advancing the global development of subsea cables. This project is a great case study showing how we employ our risk-mitigating programme delivery system to develop appropriately engineered solutions, fully aligned with our client’s requirements. We achieve this by applying Informed Engineering, an in-house methodology combining awareness of functional requirements and boundaries, with understanding of operational objectives. This has supported us in ensuring a suitable system was delivered On Spec, Budget and In Time – OSBIT.”
Alex Neumann, ORE Catapult’s Electrical Infrastructure Asset Manager, said: “ORE Catapult is a leading independent expert in the test, validation and certification of High Voltage (HV) electrical systems. By adding the new test rig to our UKAS-accredited HV laboratories, we are able to fully integrate our extensive suite of specialist test and measurement facilities and engineering expertise to provide a better understanding of failure modes and in so doing improve the efficiency, performance and resilience of subsea cable systems.”