Technical Digest: Offshore transmission - First HVDC substation

High voltage direct current (HVDC) has long been heralded as the answer to efficient transport of electricity to shore from wind farms located far out to sea.

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Now that theory is being put into practice with the commissioning of an HVDC substation for the Borkum 2 wind farm, to be built 130 kilometres off the coast of Germany in the North Sea - the furthest from land of any wind farm yet in development. Although HVDC transmission adds complexity, raising the cost of power transmission, this is compensated for by lower power losses over long distances, its proponents argue.

The 400 MW offshore substation was delivered by sister companies Heerema Vlissingen and HFG Engineering, both operating companies of Heerema Fabrication Group (HFG) in Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands, under an engineering, procurement and construction contract with ABB in Sweden. Engineering work on the substation started in November 2007 and installation began in May of the 4800 tonne HVDC station in a water depth of 40 metres, by Dutch Heerema Marine Contractors in Leiden, another division within the Heerema Group. The performance of the wind farm, once built, and its HVDC transmission solution, will be watched with interest to see if the theory really is borne out in practice.

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