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Subsea power system commercially viable

Published: 21 November 2019 - Carly Wills

Following the completion of a 3,000-hour shallow water test at a sheltered harbour in Vaasa, Finland, ABB’s subsea power distribution and conversion technology system is commercially viable.

Energy companies will now be able to access a reliable supply of up to 100 megawatts of power, over distances up to 600km and down to 3,000m water depth, at pressures that could shatter a brick. 

This is all achievable with a single cable with little or no maintenance for up to 30 years.

Previously, only the transmission cable and subsea step-down transformer were proven to operate underwater - now ABB’s complete subsea power distribution and conversion system includes a step-down transformer, medium voltage variable speed drives and switchgear, control and low voltage power distribution, and power electronics and control systems.

This $100m research, design and development Joint Industry Project (JIP) between ABB and Equinor, with its partners Total and Chevron, was initiated in 2013. The validation of the shallow water test means the majority of the world’s offshore hydrocarbon resources are now in reach for electrification.

“This milestone marks an outstanding achievement and is the culmination point of an inspirational technology development achieved through tremendous dedication, expertise and perseverance. It is the result of intensive collaboration by over 200 scientists and engineers from ABB, Equinor, Total and Chevron in a multi-year, joint effort,” said Dr Peter Terwiesch, president of ABB’s Industrial Automation business.

ABB’s subsea power technology can connect to any power source, enabling future integrations with renewable energy, such as wind and hydro power.

Having fewer people offshore will reduce risks and improve overall safety. Against a backdrop of digitalisation and increasing autonomy in offshore operations, new opportunities are also anticipated in the ocean ecosystem.

“Moving the entire oil and gas production facility to the seabed is no longer a dream. Remotely operated, increasingly autonomous, subsea facilities powered by lower carbon energy are more likely to become a reality as we transition towards a new energy future,” said Dr Terwiesch.



 
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