On the Forefront of Renewable Energy

Migrating towards renewable energy sources has the world moving to decentralized models. Power sources include solar and wind that replace fossil fuels. New extrusion solutions are required.

Migrating towards renewable energy sources has the energy world facing many technical challenges and moving away from centralized energy generation with a few big power plants to a much more decentralized model. The latter is built up of numerous smaller power sources. It includes, for example, weather powered generation that replaces human controlled fossil fuel powered plants.

There is a growing need for new types of cables and new manufacturing requirements. On the power generation side, the two big contributors in the renewable energy mix are wind and solar. Both have brought forth specialized cables and specific manufacturing needs.

Solar panels

Solar panels or photovoltaic power generation come in many different sizes and forms, with installations ranging from one panel to gigantic solar panel farms. They all share similar exposure to the elements, ultraviolet radiation, temperature cycles, ice and possibly insects or animals. The conditions also affect the cables which chain-link the panels and their converters. UV protection extends the lifetime of products exposed to sunlight. Cables need to fulfill stiff UV resistance and flame retardancy requirements at elevated temperatures.

Flame Retardant Crosslinked insulation and jacketing designs meet the requirements. Extrusion of highly filled and chemically active compounds is a combination that the Maillefer EEL20 ///Explore insulation line is made for. Helical grooved air-cooled extruders display excellent output stability and linearity when extruding these compounds. Depending on the requirements, the two-layer cable constructions are either made in tandem or co-extruded, and in one single run.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines come in many sizes and are situated in very different places; from off-shore to on-land, in mountains or deserts. However, the basic principle is essentially the same, a generator is powered by a propeller located in a pivoting nacelle high over the ground. The nacelle orients the propeller optimally against the wind. So, cables need to allow for rotational movement.

Power cables that carry the generated power down to ground level are typically rubber insulated. The highly flexible conductors and the insulation & jacketing allow for torsional movement. These flexible and wear resistant cables are insulated and jacketed on Maillefer Supersteam Rubber CV lines, called the Maillefer EPL20 ///Explore. High line speeds in manufacturing are achieved without sacrificing the flexibility of the end-product at low steam pressures by use of Supersteam electrical heating.

High-voltage transmission

High-voltage transmission cannot be neglected when talking about renewable energy. For generation done far from the consumers, there is a need to transport energy efficiently over long distances. When weather is a source of power, there has to be a back-up plan for when the weather does not cooperate. The alternative source may be in another remote location which is shared with neighboring power grids. More intelligent control of the power grid is necessary with a decentralized model.

The answer comes in the form of High-voltage Direct Current cables. What the cable manufacturing world is seeing is not one but two migrations at the same time; the move to HVDC cables because of increased renewable energy generation, and the move from paper to plastic insulation. The vast majority of XLPE HVDC cables manufactured today are made on our EPL50 catenary CV lines or EPL51 vertical CV lines. This segment of lines is also the best seller of Maillefer today with a big number of CV lines equipped with Maillefer Value Packages that boost HVDC manufacturing, like the HVDC module for the NCC curing calculation program.

Renewable energy has arrived with new modes of generation, transmission, and interconnection. Our extrusion lines offer the manufacturers the capabilities to respond to the rapid evolution coming from the industry.

Markus Boström

Director, Technology

Topics: Performance solutions, Solutions, Maillefer, Performance, Production Capacity, Upgrade Solutions, Value Corner, Novelties & Launches, Extrusion, Innovation

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