Offshore Wind at Risk due to Subsea Cable Failures

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The Global Underwater Hub (GUH) is addressing the issue of failures in underwater cables, which it believes could hinder global offshore wind ambitions. GUH emphasizes the importance of reliable subsea cables for the success of offshore wind and the energy transition, but notes that cable failures are too common, leading to high insurance costs. The organization warns that if these critical components become uninsurable, it could derail offshore wind projects worldwide and make global net zero targets by 2050 unachievable. GUH estimates that over £620 billion of investment in offshore wind farms is expected by 2030, with the subsea cable sector estimated at £100 billion over the next decade.

To tackle this issue, GUH has established the Subsea Cables Forum, which aims to develop industry-led standards and best practice guidelines to improve the quality, reliability, and insurability of cables. These standards would be adopted by developers, suppliers, contractors, warranty surveyors, and insurance bodies. GUH highlights the need for a holistic approach to finding solutions as offshore wind expands in scale and technical capability, particularly in the emerging floating offshore wind sector. The organization emphasizes the importance of addressing reliability issues throughout the cable lifecycle, from design to operation and maintenance.

GUH calls for better information sharing, increased transparency, and a move away from a siloed approach in the industry. It believes that introducing shared learning, data logging, and increased transparency will create an environment for the development of best practices in addressing cable reliability issues. GUH also notes that the costs of insuring floating offshore wind projects are expected to be 30% higher than fixed bottom ones, further emphasizing the need for solutions to improve cable reliability in this sector.

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