Dutch engineering company KCI says it has finished the basic design of an offshore switchyard for transmission system operator Elia to combine and bring electricity onshore from several wind farms off the coast of Belgium.
In an international competition, KCI was awarded the concept verification and basic design of a so-called offshore switchyard, which, according to KCI, could be seen as a central offshore power socket and is a completely new concept. The engineering company says it will combine the generation power from several offshore wind farms and bring the combined output to shore.
Until now, all North Sea wind farms have been connected individually to onshore grids, but now, Elia has a plan for a modular grid, to which wind farms could be connected and which will bring the power to shore through one single offshore switchyard.
Creating a modular grid is ideal from a technical and economic, but also environmental, viewpoint, as it will facilitate shared use of the grid by many wind farms. Moreover, the company says the idea for a modular offshore grid does not limit itself to Belgian waters. Elia and its partners want to be at the basis of laying a direct current offshore grid in Europe.
KCI says the outside of the offshore switchyard will look like a substation, but inside, there will be no transformer, as the voltage of the offshore wind turbines has already been changed from medium to high voltage.
The platform will house 220 kV gas insulated switchgear and multiple submarine cable connections. Whereas a substation often has an export cable of around 100-150 mm in diameter, the cable of the offshore switchyard will be much thicker, says KCI.