Are you making the right connections?

Jérôme Fournier Jan 25, 2022

Clean energy connections, Nexans

“First mile” innovation is transforming the deployment of new electricity generation assets

Switching from coal to clean energy is one of the fastest ways to cut carbon emissions. Progress is being made. In Europe, coal’s share of the generation mix is now just 13%. But it’s a different picture worldwide. More than a third of the planet’s power still comes from burning coal. Finding ways to cut carbon dependency is a priority.

Source: Ember
Source: Ember

Clean energy connections

Decarbonised energy – from wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear – holds the key to tackling carbon emissions. But deploying and connecting clean generation assets presents a number of challenges. Geography is one of them.

Unlike fossil fuel power stations, which were traditionally built close to cities, utility-scale clean energy is highly dependent on specific types of locations. These locations are often far from cities in environments that are sometimes harsh, hazardous and hard to reach.

Offshore wind and solar – assets are sited at sea, often far away from land. Developers need fast, safe ways to deploy these assets. In addition, the trend towards “floating” generation means specialised cables are needed to handle power from assets that are in constant motion.

Onshore wind and solar – turbines and panels are often deployed in remote locations with limited access. Developers need to minimise the number of days spent on site, get assets into operation faster and maximise output once everything is online.    

Nuclear plants – these are typically deployed far from cities. Developers need ways to transmit huge power flows over long distances with minimum land take – and without transmission losses.

How can Nexans help?

Delivering the energy transition is at the heart of Nexans’ mission. It starts at the generation stage, where our mission is to connect new sources of electricity to the grid and create energy highways between countries and continents. To do this, we offer a range of innovative solutions to help our customers get their low-carbon energy projects connected to the grid in the world’s most demanding environments.

Dynamic export cables – these tough, flexible cables make it possible to transmit power from floating wind and floating solar to the land. This is a particularly challenging task: cables must be capable of accommodating movements caused by wind, waves and tides. Our dynamic cables have already proved themselves in floating wind and solar energy projects in the North Sea.

Cable collector network engineering – today, the main challenge is to optimise the layout of wind and solar farms to minimise CAPEX and OPEX while simultaneously maximising the power output. Projects rely on a unique design methodology for collector networks developed to boost cost savings. Cable Network Design is as important as manufacture, supply and installation. One achievement we are very proud of is our architecture for the 275 km of 33 kV collector cables for the 530 MW onshore wind farm that is the largest in the southern hemisphere.

KEYLIOS® Solar Tracker – a revolutionary single-axis tracking system that ensures optimum output from utility-scale solar farms. Our tracking system generates power yields that are 15% to 30% higher compared with fixed installations. Sloping, anthropised or degraded sites are the preferred locations for solar farms. Nexans trackers with a limited number of ground piles offer a significant advantage in terms of CAPEX and ease of installation.

WINDLINK® cable kits – installing cabling within wind turbines might be slow and risky. That’s why Nexans has developed a complete cable kit that’s tailored to the turbine. This accelerates deployment, minimises the risk of installation errors and reduces the time the workforce needs to spend in hazardous environments – both on land and at sea.

Keylios® Photovoltaic Harnesses – deploying utility-scale solar is a complex business. And with up to 4,000 km of cabling on the largest solar farms, it’s time consuming too. Our made-to-measure harnesses accelerate deployment – as well as reducing capital costs by 15% and cutting low-voltage cable lengths by up to 36%.

Superconductors – our “Best Paths” superconducting cable can channel the energy from three nuclear reactors through a cable that is less than 20 cm in diameter – with almost no losses. Meanwhile, land take for transmission infrastructure is up to ten times lower.

These are just some of the ways we are helping our customers to bring about the energy transition. In my next blog, we will discover how Nexans is helping customers to optimise their grid infrastructure.

About the author

Jérôme Fournier

Jérôme Fournier is Nexans' Vice President in charge of Innovation, Services & Growth since January 1, 2019.
Jérôme joined Alcatel Cables in 1997 in the Metallurgy division. He was in charge of Nexans' R&D from 2007 to 2011 before joining Michelin Group where he held various positions as R&D Director from 2011 to 2018. As VP Innovation he is responsible for the Group's R&D, Design Labs teams, innovation partnerships and acceleration units.

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