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Western HVDC Link Sets Voltage Record

Prysmian Group has been awarded a record contract worth approximately 800 million euros — the highest value ever awarded in the cable business — for the development of the Western HVDC Link, a new submarine high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) interconnector between Scotland and England. The whole turnkey project will be executed by a consortium of Prysmian and Siemens who will be responsible for the HVDC converter stations.

Total value of the contract awarded to the consortium by NGET/SPT Upgrades Ltd., a joint venture set up by the system operator National Grid Electricity Transmission and its Scottish counterpart Scottish Power Transmission, is around 1.1 billion euros. Commissioning is scheduled by late 2015.

The Western HVDC Link interconnection is strategic for the upgrade of the entire British transmission grid, as the U.K. is heading towards a low carbon economy with a massive utilization of power from renewable sources. The interconnection, designed as a low-loss HVDC transmission system, will operate at the a voltage level of 600 kV, the highest ever reached by an insulated cable (to date the record is 500 kV) with a rating of 2,200 MW, both currently unmatched for long-haul systems.

The main purpose of the cable link is to connect renewable generation sources in Scotland to the consumption centers in England, although it also allows bidirectional flow of power. The choice of a submarine cable link versus a land interconnection offers remarkable benefits in terms of project approval and execution time.

The project requires full turnkey provision of an HVDC link (design, manufacture, installation, testing and commissioning) and considers a bi-pole of cables using paper-polypropylene-laminate (PPL) insulation, with enhanced electrical and thermal performance. Prysmian has been a forerunner in bringing on the market mass-impregnated PPL cables, an innovative material technology that allows reaching higher voltage classes, reduced cables dimensions for equivalent transmission capacity and optimized power losses.

With a route length in excess of 400 km (643 miles), the link includes a short land section in Scotland and a significant land portion in England-Wales; the submarine part will be installed in the Irish Sea. Offshore installation will be performed by Prysmian's own cable ship Giulio Verne.

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