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New subsea cable to get real-time fault checks

By Staff Reporter

Cable installation on the Bute-Cumbrae link is now complete.
Cable installation on the Bute-Cumbrae link is now complete.

Sensors will be used to monitor the condition of a new subsea electricity cable to alert workers to potential faults or safety issues.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has replaced one of two cables connecting Bute and Cumbrae and plans to install new fault detection software in the next few months.

The network operator said its innovative monitoring devices, which will be installed on the new cable, will notify the team of any cable collisions of movements.

The technology, called Distributed Acoustic Sensing, has been funded through SSEN's £1.5 million Network Innovation Allowance project, SUBsense.

Peter Taddei, project manager of SUBsense, said: “The project is all about ensuring that our customers who rely on subsea cables for their power get the safest and most reliable supply of electricity we can deliver. Being able to get a real-time health check on the new cable’s condition means we’ll be able to see any damage or detect potential faults developing, which in turn allows us to carry out repairs quickly and effectively."

Cumbrae receives its power from the mainland by two subsea cables, one of which was approaching the end of its operational life. SSEN applied to Marine Scotland last autumn for a licence to install a replacement cable and, after a public consultation, the licence was granted and work on the new 5.8km cable between Kerrylamont Bay in Bute and Bell Bay in Cumbrae began earlier this year.

Mel Chisholm, SSEN’s project manager for the Bute-Cumbrae cable installation, said: “This essential project forms part of our ongoing commitment to deliver a safe and secure supply of electricity to Scotland’s island communities, and we’d like to thank everyone for their feedback and support throughout the consultation process and as installation works progressed.

“Successful completion and energisation of the cable will go a long way to delivering the power homes and businesses rely on for many years to come.”

Around 90km of submarine cables connecting Scotland’s island communities are being replaced during the current Ofgem price control period (RIIO- ED1), which runs until 2023.

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