Our world stands at a crucial crossroads on the journey to reduce carbon emissions and adopt renewable energy sources. Shifting towards clean energy is not merely a choice but an imperative in the battle against climate change and the pursuit of a sustainable future. This transition is gaining momentum, and a significant facilitator in this process is the utilization of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) infrastructures.
HVDC facilities are pivotal players in Europe’s energy transition. They are indispensable for establishing long-distance connections between countries and efficiently transmitting electricity from offshore wind farms in Northern Europe to consumption centers in Central Europe, a technology that is growing so fast and according to IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), renewables must increase from 25% to 86% by 2050 in the yearly global power generation to satisfy the Paris Agreement’s objective. What sets HVDC apart is its remarkable capacity to minimize energy losses during electricity transmission across extensive distances. It functions as a superhighway for clean energy to flow seamlessly across borders, thereby contributing to Europe’s ambitious decarbonization objectives.
As per research findings, the reduction in losses with HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current) cables varies based on cable length and voltage level. Generally, HVDC experiences lower losses than HVAC (High-Voltage Alternating Current) over long distances. For a ±800 kV line voltage, HVDC incurs losses of approximately 3% per 1,000 km, while HVAC results in losses of about 7% per 1,000 km, signifying more than a 50% reduction compared to Alternating Current infrastructure. The market is currently witnessing remarkable growth, necessitating significant production capacity to meet the escalating demand.
In this context, ensuring the uninterrupted service, quality, and resilience of HVDC interconnections for Transmission System Operators (TSOs), utilities, and their customers is of utmost importance. Consequently, thorough testing of HVDC cables is becoming increasingly critical. Amid the evolving energy landscape, KEMA Labs, the Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) Division of the CESI Group, has significantly enhanced its testing capabilities to support the advancement of HVDC technology. With this expansion, KEMA Labs solidifies its position as the foremost independent entity in the HVDC Cable market, operating over ten independent test facilities worldwide.
A highlight of this expansion is the comprehensive transformation of KEMA Labs’ renowned synthetic laboratory in Milan. This facility is undergoing a meticulous redesign to accommodate three specialized HVDC test zones, exclusively reserved for the Prysmian Group for a minimum of three years. These updated spaces will feature cutting-edge HVDC voltage and current generators, automated control systems, and state-of-the-art impulse generators, showcasing the pinnacle of testing technology. The additional capacity being installed is expected to enable testing for more than 78,000 hours of cumulative testing, qualifying up to nine different cable designs. Each tested cable will undergo a rigorous testing program in line with international standards, capable of simulating the entire 40-year lifespan under the most demanding technical conditions.
In addition to expanding its HVDC testing capabilities, KEMA Labs has also been involved in several noteworthy HVDC projects in recent years, including the German Corridor project. In 2017, KEMA Labs conducted four Prequalification Tests (PQ) on the German Corridor HVDC cable system, one of the longest and most powerful HVDC cable systems globally. KEMA Labs has also tested numerous other HVDC cables in the past few years, contributing to the pioneering technology transformation demanded by TOV testing, a first-of-its-kind endeavor in the history of KEMA Labs. With the total number of independently operated test facilities surpassing ten, KEMA Labs has now become the largest HVDC cable testing laboratory in the world.
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