How much space there is to reduce the cost of submarine cables

In 2022, national subsidies for offshore wind power will be completely withdrawn, and the post-subsidy era puts forward higher requirements for enterprises’ R&D and innovation capabilities. As one of the three major hardware equipment along with the fan, foundation and tower, the submarine cable equipment accounts for about 10% of the total cost of offshore wind power. Where is the reduction space in this part and how big is it?

Global offshore wind costs and electricity prices continue to fall, with the newly announced minimum bid for 2019 offshore wind projects in France and the UK reaching 0.39 yuan/KWH (2026) and 0.35 yuan/KWH (2023/25), respectively. Compared with China’s feed-in tariff of 0.75 yuan per kilowatt-hour (2020), this figure still has a lot of room to fall.

The high technology content of sea cable determines its high cost and cost. A set of figures from the Water Planning Board show that the price of 35kV submarine cable is between 600,000 and 1.5 million yuan/km, and that of 220kV submarine cable is between 4 million and 5 million yuan/km.

However, different from onshore wind power, offshore wind power projects need to first collect the generated electricity generated by the scattered fans in the site to the offshore booster station through 35kV submarine cable, and then send it to the onshore centralized control center by 220kV submarine cable from the offshore booster station. In this process, the delivery cost of offshore wind power is much higher than that of onshore wind power, and the farther offshore the project is, the higher the investment cost of submarine cable will be.

It can be said that the decrease of submarine cable cost depends on many factors — material, technology, networking mode, offshore distance and so on, but a very important point is that the increase of construction amount corresponds to the decrease of unit cost.

It is widely predicted in the industry that during the 14th five-year Plan period, as China’s offshore wind power policies push back and the volume gradually increases, the unit kilowatt cost of China’s offshore wind power will be reduced from the current 16,000 yuan to about 13,000 yuan, with about 20% of the cost reduction space.

Similarly, Zhao Shengxiao, deputy chief engineer of the East China Survey and Design Institute of China Power Construction Group, pointed out that the cost per kilowatt hour of the delivery system for China’s 1 million kilowatt offshore wind farms is more than 0.15 yuan per kilowatt hour. If the installed capacity reaches more than 2 ~3 million kw, the cost per KWH of the delivery system will be reduced to less than 0.1 yuan/KWH.

He also pointed out that in the sea cable with aluminum core instead of copper core, insulation materials domestic situation, the cost of sea cable will be reduced by 12% to 18%. This means that in the process of large-scale construction of offshore wind power in China, the cost of each link of offshore wind power can be gradually reduced to the level that the industry can bear with the support of “quantity”.

On the other hand, technological innovation is also recognized as one of the cost reduction paths in the industry.

According to the estimation of East China Institute, during the 14th five-year Plan period, the price level of offshore wind power should be between 0.5 and 0.55 yuan/KWH. In the field of collecting lines and Marine cables, it should be realized by optimizing the layout of 220kV and 220kV collecting lines, adopting 66kV collecting lines, localization of insulation materials and reduction of line investment by aluminum core. And above measure can reduce project whole unit kilowatt cost 400~500 yuan.

In the future, with the development of offshore wind power to the deep sea, floating dynamic cable, 330kV cable, HVDC cable and other technical fields will be the direction of innovation.

Main structure of wire and cable

In general, the most basic structure of the cable is conductor, insulation layer and outer protective layer. According to the requirements, add this structure, such as shielding layer, inner protective layer or armored layer, etc., and then add some filling materials for the completeness of the cable. Conductors are carriers that carry currents or signals, and other structures are used for protection.

1、Conductor (or conductor core) :

Its function is to conduct current, there is a solid core and stranded. The material is mainly copper, which conducts electricity much better than aluminum, and aluminum. The resistivity of copper conductor shall not be less than 0.0172410 mm /m(at 20℃) according to the national standard, and that of aluminum conductor shall not be less than 0.0282642 mm /m(at 20℃).

2、Fire-resistant layer:

Only fire-resistant cables have this structure. Due to the high temperature resistance and insulating effect of mica strip, the cable can protect the conductor for a certain time in the fire. Now the main refractory material used is mica strip.

3、Insulation layer:

The coating is outside the conductor, its function is to isolate the conductor, bear the corresponding voltage, prevent the current leakage. There are various insulating materials, the main performance is the insulation performance is better, other performance requirements according to the use requirements are different, some require high temperature flame retardant performance or ability, some require cable or produce less smoke when burning or harmful gases, some oil demand ability, corrosion resistance, others require soft, etc.

4 、Shielding layer:

Outside the insulation layer and inside the outer protective layer, the function is to limit electric field and electromagnetic interference. For different types of cables, shielding materials are also different, mainly: copper wire weaving, copper wire winding, aluminum wire weaving, aluminum foil, etc.

5、Filling layer:

The filling function is mainly to make the cable round, stable structure, some filler also plays a role of water resistance, fire resistance and so on. The main materials are PP rope, glass fiber rope, asbestos rope, etc., the requirements of non-hygroscopic materials and non-conductive.

6、Inner protective layer:

The function of inner sheath is to protect insulated wire core from damage by armor layer or shield layer. The inner sheath has several forms such as extrusion and wrapping. For the high requirements of the use of extrusion form, low requirements of the use of winding form. Now wrapped with a variety of materials, such as PVC wrapped tape, PP wrapped tape.

7、Armor layer:

The function of armor layer is to protect the cable from external damage. The most common ones are steel tape armor and steel wire armor, as well as aluminum tape armor and stainless steel tape armor. The main function of steel tape armoring is to resist pressure, while steel wire armoring is to resist tension.

8、The outer protective layer:

A component that protects the outermost layer of a cable. There are three main types: plastic, rubber and metal. Among them, the most commonly used plastics are PVC and PE, according to the characteristics of the cable has flame retardant, low smoke halogen-free type.

Direct investment in natural gas in India has accumulated to $140bn over the past eight years

Morgan Stanley in a research report, Covid accelerated the transformation of the energy industry in India – 19 outbreak, had a profound impact on India’s economy, including the new $140 billion in the eight years of natural gas direct investment and employment growth improves the highest 300 basis points, the current account deficit is 40 – $4.7 billion per year on average.

“Covid – 19 outbreak also for consumer and industrial companies reduce costs as much as 25% of the energy on average, 10% global oil demand growth slowed down, and make the gasoline-powered cars in India PV market share increase in sales nearly doubled,” Morgan Stanley said in a report, “and, more importantly, with natural gas as fuel of choice for people, we think it will reshape consumer habits, to 2025 the demand for natural gas compound annual growth rate to 8%.”

The investment bank expects natural gas to account for about 10 per cent of India’s primary energy supply by 2025, up from 6 per cent today, and renewables to 6 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent now.

Gas prices for Asian consumers have shrunk the most as the global glut has deepened. India has been the biggest beneficiary, as consumer prices have fallen by 25% and remain structurally low while natural gas infrastructure has doubled and renewable energy has made natural gas more prominent in the fuel mix.

“Stricter pollution standards and supportive regulatory policies will facilitate India’s energy transition. Because industry and the power sector consider natural gas cheap, easy to use, and environmental policy. Morgan Stanley adds that individual demand for natural gas for cooking and travel will increase by 2025 as last-mile infrastructure doubles.

Potential beneficiaries of switching to Gas include midstream pipelines and infrastructure owners such as Gujarat Gas. At the same time, auto makers like Maruti are pushing for hybrid gas, fuel retailers, infrastructure builders and ultimately industrial consumers are driving demand.

For now, most refineries are consolidating into downstream chemicals, although there may be headwinds for refineries. In addition, fuel retailers offer integrated energy solutions by offering consumers the choice of filling tanks for gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or rechargeable batteries.

Hitachi ABB Power Grid Co., Ltd. was formally established to make power grids intelligent

On July 1, Hitachi LTD. and ABB LTD jointly announced the establishment of Hitachi ABB Power Grid Co., LTD. Hitachi will hold 80.1 per cent of the new venture, with ABB holding the rest. The joint venture aims to create a new leader in the global power industry.

Toshikazu Nishino, Hitachi group executive vice-president, will become chairman of the new company and Claudio Facchin will become chief executive. The company will remain headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, and the current management team will ensure business continuity.

“Hitachi’s leading digital technologies, combined with ABB’s world-leading grid solutions, will help us play an active role in the transformation and decarbonization of the global energy system, shaping the future of sustainable energy,” Said Mr. Nishino. At the same time, intelligent solutions for changing power grids will contribute to achieving the ‘affordable, reliable and sustainable clean energy’ stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7.”

The combination with Hitachi will enable the new company to further expand business opportunities in transportation, smart cities, industrial, energy storage and data centers, obtain financing support for major projects, and gain access to the world’s third largest economy, Japan.

“The partnership with Hitachi will generate synergies to help the grid business enter emerging and developing markets and further consolidate the company’s leadership position by taking it to a new stage of development,” said Timo Ihamuotila, chief financial officer of ABB Group and a member of ABB’s board of Directors. “Hitachi is committed to supporting the development of the new company over the long term and to strengthening the existing business relationship between the two parties.”

“By integrating our respective technological strengths, we will embrace new market opportunities and create more value for our customers,” said Qin Fang, CHIEF executive of ABB Power. “As a preferred partner in building a stronger, smarter, and greener grid, we remain committed to shaping the future of sustainable energy through technological innovation and digitalization to energize the world.”

The global subsea power cable market will grow at a compound annual rate of over 4% from 2020 to 2024

The market for subsea power cables is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of more than 4 percent from 2020-2024, driven largely by surging demand for electricity, according to Technavio.

According to the report, 47 percent of the market growth in the forecast period will come from Europe, with Italy, Denmark and Finland being important markets for European subsea power cables.

Europe is the largest subsea power cable market in 2019, and government support and growing concern about wind power will significantly drive growth in the subsea power cable market in the region during the forecast period.

Offshore wind turbines can produce more energy using fewer turbines than conventional ones. As a result, the Asia-Pacific region will enjoy rapid growth during the forecast period. Thanks to heavy investment in offshore wind projects over the past few years, China and India will account for most of the region’s share of the forecast period.

According to the IEA, demand for electricity will rise by 40 per cent by 2024. Similarly, growing environmental concerns will force economies to use renewable energy to generate electricity. As a result, the number of renewable projects such as wind and tidal power projects is increasing in most countries, which in turn will increase the demand for undersea power cables or submarine cables. The growing demand for intercountry and island connections will be one of the main drivers of market growth. Subsea power grid interconnection projects in France – UK, Belgium – UK and Ireland – UK are under construction.

On the other hand, the growing demand for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power cables will also drive the market growth. These HVDC cables are more and more popular compared with traditional cables because they are safe and reliable and can transmit power over long distances. These factors will drive the global subsea power cable market to grow at a compound annual rate of over 4% over the forecast period.

From the manufacturers’ point of view, Prysman, Nexans, Sumitomo Electric, Lenny Cable, Ankart Cable, Tengura Cable, Guhe Electrician, LS cable will continue to dominate the global subsea power cable market in the forecast period.

Design and laying of submarine cable

The design of submarine optical cable: anti-corrosion, anti-seepage, but also against sharks, compared with coaxial cable, optical fiber is quite obvious advantages, but its own is quite fragile, so this protection of optical fiber submarine cable peripheral protection structure put forward higher requirements. Specifically, the design of submarine optical cable must ensure that the internal optical fiber is not affected by external forces and the environment. Its basic requirements include adaptability to submarine pressure, abrasion resistance and non-corrosion, etc. It also has to prevent hydrogen from forming inside (and therefore not using aluminum) and hydrogen from outside (preventing gas infiltration). In addition, it must be properly armored to protect it from trawlers, anchors and sharks. When the cable is broken, but also as much as possible to reduce the length of seawater into the cable; At the same time, it can withstand the tension during laying and recovery; Last but not least, the service life of submarine cables is generally required to be over 25 years.

Based on the above requirements, the current design structure of submarine cables usually consists of one or two coating treatments of the fiber in a spiral wrapping around the center, and then reinforcing members (made of steel wire) wrapped around (usually 69 mm in diameter). Specifically, it includes: polyethylene layer, polyester resin or asphalt layer, steel strand layer, aluminum waterproof layer, polycarbonate layer, copper or aluminum tube, paraffin layer, alkane layer, fiber bundle, etc.

Laying process: from relying on the tide to relying on robots

The laying project of submarine optical cable is recognized as one of the most complicated and difficult large-scale projects in the world, which is not difficult to understand why the service life of submarine optical cable is required to reach more than 25 years, because laying once is very troublesome! The laying process of submarine optical cable can be divided into two parts, namely, the laying of shallow sea area and the laying of deep sea area. In the deep sea area, the laying of submarine optical cable has to go through three stages, namely, exploration and cleaning, sea cable laying and burial protection. The laying of submarine cables mainly depends on the cable laying ships and underwater robots. The cable laying ships should pay special attention to the sailing speed and cable release speed, so as to control the water inlet Angle and laying tension of the cable, so as to avoid damaging the fragile optical fibers in the cable due to too small bending radius or too large tension.

As shown in the figure above, this is the laying process of an undersea optical cable. In shallow sea areas, the laying ship stays a few kilometers away from the coast, and the cable placed on the floating bag is pulled to the shore by the shore tractor. Then the floating bag is removed to make the cable sink to the sea floor. In the deep sea, the laying ship is mainly responsible for releasing optical cables, and then the underwater detector is combined with the underwater remote control vehicle for underwater monitoring and adjustment, so as to avoid uneven and rocky areas on the seabed. The robot then proceeded to a three-step operation: first, it created a trench about 2m deep in the sea floor, using high-pressure flushing; The second step is to put the cable into the trench; Third, cover it with the sand nearby.

Special to note here is that a intercontinental submarine cable is difficult to a complete laid, because at present the most advanced optical cable laying ship can only carry 2000 kilometers of fiber optic cable (and now laying rate can only reach 200 km/day), thus laid to segments, and each paragraph “cable docking”, needs to be done in laying the ship, and requires high technology.

Two cable news from Japan

1. Japan plans to popularize optical fiber network nationwide 2 years ahead of schedule

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, in an effort to promote online education and other coVID-19 response measures, will advance its plan to complete fiber optic lines nationwide by two years, aiming to make the network accessible to almost all households by the end of 2021, Japanese media reported.
Japan’s first and second supplementary budgets for 2020 totaled 53 billion yen (3.5 billion yuan) to support local governments and enterprises to improve fiber optic networks, hoping to provide necessary communications infrastructure for areas not covered at an early date. Since the fibre-optic network will also form the basis of online medical and administrative procedures, the Ministry of Internal Affairs will give up to 90 per cent of subsidies to local governments and businesses to improve the lines.
As of the end of March 2019, there are still about 660,000 households in Japan that are not yet connected to the fiber optic network. The lowest coverage rate was 91.8% in Nagasaki prefecture. Shimane prefecture was second with 92.0%, and Kagoshima prefecture was third with 93.3%.
In June 2019, the Ministry of General Affairs and Communications set a target to reduce the number of uncovered households to 180,000 by the end of 2023, covering almost all households. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, such as working at home and distance learning, the importance of network applications has been highlighted. The Japanese government has decided to advance the coverage of optical fiber network by 2 years.
Japan’s ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications intends to make fiber optic networks and fixed telephone networks a “universal service” that must be provided to the whole country.
In addition, optical fiber is also the basis of the fifth-generation (5G) mobile communication system built by mobile phone companies. More than 210,000 base stations are expected to be built by the end of 2023, about three times the original plan, the Ministry of Communications announced Thursday.

2.Japan may build 22 more coal-fired power plants in the next five years

The move by the Japanese government stands apart from the broader global push for renewable power generation. In fact, as far as the Japanese government is concerned, its “enthusiasm” for renewable energy is much lower than we think.
Indeed, after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan did embrace renewable energy. Naoto Kan, the prime minister at the time, announced that Japan would start from scratch with a new energy strategy to boost its share of renewable energy. So far, however, progress has been slow. Between 2010 and 2018, the share of Japan’s electricity supply generated by renewable energy sources only increased from 10 percent to 17 percent, with nearly half of that coming from existing hydropower projects.
Not only that, but the power gap created by Japan’s nuclear shutdowns has been replaced by coal-fired and natural gas plants. While the government plans for nuclear power to still provide at least 20 per cent of Japan’s electricity demand by 2030 (up from more than 25 per cent before the Fukushima accident), coal’s share is set to grow and it has approved plans to build 22 new coal plants over the next five years. By contrast, Japan’s renewable energy targets of 22-24% are well below those of many European countries and below the current global average.

The difference between photovoltaic cable and ordinary cable

The characteristic of photovoltaic cable is determined by its special insulating material and sheath material, which is called cross-linked PE. After irradiation by the irradiation accelerator, the molecular structure of the cable material will change, thus providing its performance in all aspects.

Photovoltaic cables are often exposed to sunlight, and solar systems are often used under harsh environmental conditions, such as high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation. In Europe, sunny days will result in solar system site temperatures of up to 100°C. At present, we can use all kinds of material with PVC, rubber, TPE and cross-linked with high quality material, but unfortunately, the rated temperature of 90 ° C rubber cable, and even the temperature of 70 ° C rated PVC cable is also often used outdoors, the national golden sun project horse, there are many contractors in order to save costs, not to choose cable specially used for solar system, choosing instead to replace the ordinary PVC cable photovoltaic cable, obviously, this will greatly affect the service life of the system.
The characteristic of photovoltaic cable is determined by its special insulating material and sheath material, which is called cross-linked PE. After irradiation by the irradiation accelerator, the molecular structure of the cable material will change, thus providing its performance in all aspects.

Mechanical load resistance:
In fact, during installation and maintenance, cables may be wired along sharp edges of the roof structure and subjected to pressure, bending, tension, cross-tensile loads and strong shocks. If the cable sheath is not strong enough, the insulation layer of the cable will be seriously damaged, which will affect the service life of the whole cable, or lead to problems such as short circuit, fire and personal injury risk.

What is aluminium alloy power cable?

Aluminum alloy power cable is a new material power cable with AA8030 series aluminum alloy material as the conductor, adopting advanced technology such as special roll forming wire twisted production process and annealing treatment. Alloy power cable made up for the inadequacy of previous pure aluminium cable, although there is no improve the conductive properties of the cable, but the bending performance, creep resistance and corrosion resistance are greatly improved, to ensure that the cable for a long time to keep continuous stable performance when overload and overheat, the AA – 8030 series of aluminum alloy conductor, which can greatly improve the conductivity of the aluminum alloy cable, high temperature resistance, and solves the problem such as pure aluminium conductor, creep. The conductivity of aluminum alloy is 61.8% of that of copper IACS, the most common reference material. But at the same volume, the actual weight of an aluminum alloy is about a third that of copper. Therefore, the weight of the aluminum cable is about half that of the copper cable with the same load flow. The use of aluminum cable instead of copper cable can reduce the weight of the cable, reduce installation costs, reduce equipment and cable wear, making installation easier.
Aluminum alloy cables add copper, iron, magnesium, silicon, zinc, boron and other alloying elements into the electrical aluminum. At the same time, through process adjustment, the mechanical properties of aluminum alloy conductors are greatly improved to avoid the problems of low elongation, poor creep resistance and poor flexibility of pure aluminum conductors and increase the connection reliability of the cable system. In addition, keep the electrical properties of aluminum alloy and electrical aluminum conductor equal, at 61%IACS above.
Alloy power cable made up for the inadequacy of previous pure aluminium cable, although there is no improve the conductive properties of the cable, but the bending performance, creep resistance and corrosion resistance are greatly improved, to ensure that the cable for a long time to keep continuous stable performance when overload and overheat, the AA – 8030 series of aluminum alloy conductor, can significantly improve the conductivity of the aluminum alloy cable, high temperature resistance, at the same time solve the pure aluminium conductor electrochemical corrosion, creep, etc.
The conductivity of aluminum alloy is 61.8% of that of copper IACS, the most common reference material. But at the same volume, the actual weight of an aluminum alloy is about a third that of copper. . Therefore, the weight of the aluminum cable is about half that of the copper cable with the same load flow. The use of aluminum cable instead of copper cable can reduce the weight of the cable, reduce installation costs, reduce equipment and cable wear, making installation easier.
Aluminum alloy power cable has good mechanical properties and electric properties, it can be widely used various fields of national economy, such as common people residence, high-rise buildings, elevators, both large supermarket shopping malls, subway, airport, railway stations, hospitals, Banks, office buildings, hotels, postal telecommunications building, exhibition hall, library, museum, ancient buildings, schools, electricity, building, public places of entertainment, tunnels, underground buildings, warehouses, etc., can also be used for metallurgy, steel, coke, coal mines, power plants, power transmission and transformation station, shipbuilding, petroleum, chemical, aerospace, military, medicine, nuclear power plants, paper and other industries, And home appliances, cars, public transportation, and so on.

China’s optical fiber and cable market is recovering

With the novel Coronavirus epidemic under rapid control in China and the policy requirement to speed up the construction of new infrastructure such as 5G and big data center, the three domestic operators have also substantially increased the capital expenditure related to 5G. All these have provided further room for the growth of demand for optical fiber and cable.

Economic recovery CRU raised China’s optical fiber and cable market demand forecast

Michael Finch, director of CRU cables, said that given the latest statistics, worldwide demand for cable is expected to contract by 12-13 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, falling below 100 million core kilometres, the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Looking at the Chinese market, Michael Finch points out that demand for fiber optic cable in China has collapsed in Q1, down 18.6% year on year. Meanwhile, In Q1 of 2020, China will account for only 44 percent of the global demand for optical cable, compared with 53 percent in the same period of 2018.

Michael Finch said, “While fTTX-related demand continues to weaken, increased capital spending and a greater focus on 5G will support growth in China’s fiber demand. So we think the market will be brighter for the rest of 2020.”

It is clear that the signs of China’s economic recovery are becoming more and more obvious, and all eyes are now on the bidding of China’s three major operators. Against this backdrop, CRU raised its forecast for the Chinese market in 2020, with a projected demand decline of 5.7%. Michael Finch noted that CRU had forecast a 9% decline in February.

According to Michael Finch, China’s naked fiber market will be dominated by destocking in 2020, and the country’s naked fiber production is expected to fall 14 percent for the full year, while fiber optic cable production will fall 5 percent. Meanwhile, Michael Finch notes that despite the difficulties, many Chinese manufacturers will seek opportunities to expand exports this year.

In asia-pacific, excluding China, overall demand will remain weak in 2020, especially in India. In addition, in The North American market, higher demand growth was supported by regional protection and increased capital spending by U.S. carriers such as Verizon. However, in the European market, due to the impact of Q1 and Q2 epidemic, the demand showed a significant decline. “The delay in 5G deployment across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region has also affected the demand for fiber optic cables in the region to some extent.” Michael Finch says.

According to Michael Finch, operators are experiencing certain performance and financial pressures as a result of the outbreak, which will affect their investment and deployment plans. According to the latest estimates, global demand for optical fiber and cable is expected to drop by 3.6% in 2020, compared with a 1.9% decline in the absence of the epidemic. However, CRU also raised its market forecast for 2021 to 10.5% from 9.3%.