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Interview Synopsis

Prysmian – WesternLink power cable

  • Credit
  • Industrials
  • Europe

The Western Link is a high-voltage undersea power cable connecting Scotland and North Wales. It has been constructed by a consortium, with Prysmian responsible for manufacturing and installing the cable. To find out more about the recent damage at the project and what it could mean, Third Bridge interviewed a former head at the company.

Click on the hyperlink below to access the full Forum transcript.

Getting to the Bottom of Prysmian’s Damaged Cable for the WesternLink Project

There have been numerous cable issues. Although the reason is unknown, it seems more likely to be a production or installation problem. The cables appear heavy and strong, but they are “a very delicate product”. If installation happens during rough conditions at sea this could affect the cable’s integrity over time. 

A potential production issue could be the jointing. The project is comprised of various smaller cables. Batches of cables are joined together in the factory, and these are linked at sea. The specialist also brought up the potential of contamination and the fact that this is the first undersea cable to use a voltage level of 600kV.

Fixing this situation is expensive and can take time. Prysmian has spare cables that were made in advance for such incidents. Then, two vessels would need to uncover the cable from the seabed and splice in the new section, which could take 1-2 weeks if there is good weather. Fixing an installation issue could cost several million euros per joint.

In terms of producing cables, Prysmian is “one of the most experienced players in the world.” But, as the specialist points out, this is a new cable design: “and that puts in some uncertainties, because this is the first cable which has been made with this technology at such a long length.” 

The Interview moved onto discussing the commercial effects. The National Grid is a substantial and experienced customer, and as there is “deep contact” between the companies “Prysmian will do whatever they can to solve the problem for National Grid”. Another big question is whether this could affect Prysmian’s bid for the Viking Link between Denmark and the UK, which also involves the National Grid.

To access all the human insights from Third Bridge’s Prysmian – WesternLink Power Cable Interview, click below to view the full transcript.

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