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cables installation for offshore wind

Working to ensure a sustainable future for offshore wind farm cables

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One of the key requirements in the UK’s growth in renewable energy is the ability to successfully install electrical cabling in the marine environment.

There has been an increased focus on the effect of cabling on the seabed, most notably placement of cable protection within marine protected areas. The potential interaction between cabling activities (especially cable protection) and protected seabed habitats represents an increased consent risk to projects in the UK.

Greater clarity and understanding on cable installation techniques and tools, and how these could impact on the seabed, ensures that consenting advice from regulators and nature conservation bodies is informed by the best evidence available, reducing project consent risks.

Project name
Review of cable installation, protection, mitigation and habitat recoverability

Client
The Crown Estate

Location
UK

Completed in
2019

Services provided

  • Renewable energy
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Environmental assessment
  • Consenting advice
  • Project management
  • Cable engineering review

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Solution

In 2017, The Crown Estate announced plans to lease new areas of seabed for offshore wind developments. As part of this leasing process, they commissioned RPS to undertake a study to review current cable installation methods and protection measures, and habitat recovery. This project was driven by the increasing interest from stakeholders on the effects of cabling on the local marine environment and was undertaken to support the ‘Plan Level Habitats Regulations Assessment’ for the new leasing round.

As part of this project, our in-house environmental and engineering specialists collaborated with offshore wind developers to collate information on existing cable installation methods and tools used. Within the final report, we consider the effectiveness of these tools in a variety of seabed types and highlighting lessons learned from previous offshore wind development rounds.

The final report also presents a comprehensive review of available evidence on the impacts of offshore wind farm cabling on seabed sediments and associated biological communities. This draws on data collected from offshore wind monitoring, peer reviewed scientific literature, and our team’s experience with offshore cabling and analogous offshore industries.

The study makes recommendations on what information should be shared between developers and consenting and nature conservation bodies during future consent applications (including those associated with the latest leasing round) and during post consent engagement with stakeholders to reduce the risks of consenting. The RPS study also identified an information gap on the effect of cable protection on the seabed and the report has made recommendations on how to address this gap through targeted monitoring and/or wider industry research. These recommendations are particularly relevant for cabling activities within marine protected areas, where a greater level of scrutiny and evidence is expected by stakeholders.

offshore wind cables marine to land

21

Cable installation methods reviewed from 21 offshore wind farm projects

>   1000 km2

of export cables had their data collected

>   70

cable monitoring reports reviewed

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