Australian cable manufacturer, Nexans Olex, has developed a new process for the renewable industry, taking the 80-year-old business from a cable company to a system solutions provider.
Director Business Development, Geoffrey Simpson, said the first step was to manufacture longer cables to eliminate joints, which had been failing on several windfarms and meant they couldn’t generate electricity.
The next step was a consortium with French Company Marais, later acquired by Italy’s Tesmec, to install the cables. The Consortium goes under the name of the NTC (Nexans, Tesmec Consortium).
“Tesmec have a mechanical trenching process which is quite unique. They’ve a huge carrier that carries up to three 20 tonne drums of cable, with a tracked machine in front that is spinning around combining three lengths all into one cable, the special trenching machine then installs and backfills all in the one process go.
“So, it’s trenching, installing the cable and backfilling all in the one process. No open trenches.”
The company first utilised the long length cable concept to reduce the number of joints at the Ararat Windfarm in Victoria where the number of joints were less than half on a very long trench run.
“My relationship with ICN goes back a long way – to the McArthur Wind Farm project. There was a very close working relationship between Nexans Olex and ICN to win that,” he said. Commissioned in 2013, Macarthur was the first of many opportunities where our ICN subscription was the catalyst in winning further wind and solar farm projects.
In the very early stages of the 149-turbine Stockyard Hill Development, early advice from ICN allowed Geoffrey to contact Origin and spend time explaining Nexan Olex, NTC and its unique cable offering.
“We had carried out some early, high level system design, then Origin sold the Stockyard Hill project to Goldwind Australia. We consequently presented the new cable design and installation process to Goldwind,” Geoffrey said.
Whilst Goldwind would not be carrying out this scope of the project themselves, Geoffrey was advised to make sure the balance-of-plant (BOP) contractors were fully aware of the Nexans Olex / Marais (Tesmec) unique consortium offering. As a consequence, we presented to the large Canadian contractor, SNC Lavalin who were eventually awarded the contract, along with WBHO to carry out the electrical and civil works for the Stockyard Hill wind farm. Quickly following was the award of a turnkey contract to the Nexans Tesmec Consortium
“This was most likely the first contract of its kind in the world for a cable manufacture to optimise a wind farm HV cable collector system design, supply and install the cable and accessories and handover a fully commissioned system with a 5-year system warranty.”
The big difference presented by this new process is the unique interface between designer, supplier and installer.
“Normally a consulting engineer working for the developers, would design and prepare the project specifications which would be passed on to the contractors who would bid, and if successful, employ a large number of sub-contractors to construct according to the original design.
“In fact, there are better ways of doing this.”
“On Stockyard we surprised everybody in coming up with an optimised design that really saved $100k’s. whilst providing the owners with low whole-of-life costs along with low project costs.”
Not only did the NTC consortium develop an entirely new process, it was also useful when the Stockyard project encountered serious geotechnical and other challenges which were overcome through the consortium’s close working relationships and that Tesmec, one of the world’s largest trenching equipment manufacturers, were able to quickly summon and implement the necessary highly effective rock sawing and trenching equipment to successfully overcome any project impeding situations..
Geoffrey credits relationships with the overall Nexans success in the renewables industry.
“The ongoing relationship with ICN over the years has really made the difference in having somebody that provides that extra level of intelligence from the very beginning,” Geoffrey said. The current Forest Wind project currently planned in Queensland by Siemens is a good example of this.
ICN have really taken a lead here on what will be one of the largest land-based wind farms on the planet. It is early days and Siemens is a very large and complex organisation. ICN have broken the ice in facilitating a project introduction workshop that has proven to not only provide an essential technical understanding of the project, but more-over providing the opportunity to better understand the Siemens corporate structure and to meet the Siemens project team and objectives.
Out of the Stockyard Hill Project, Nexans Olex and the NTC Consortium have evolved even further in the renewable industry to address the cable system related challenges that have resulted from the dramatic increase in turbine sizes which has been further exacerbated by greater restrictions in the cable installation corridors and pressure on shorter project time schedules. “Lots more industry intelligence and technology has to go into designing and installing cable collector systems these days which makes the Nexans and NTC Consortium solution even more valuable to the industry,” Geoffrey said
Not bad for a company that started all those decades ago as an offshoot from Olympic Tyres.
For more information about Nexans Olex, go to the company website.