SSE array cable fault challenge

SSE are seeking a solution to monitor the condition of 33kV (630mm2, 3-phase) aluminium core array cables used in onshore windfarm applications. Cables will be several km’s in length. In the event of a cable fault (typically presenting as an earth fault), the solution should be capable of providing an indicative fault location.

What is the open innovation challenge?

The challenge is to deliver a cost-effective method of monitoring array cable condition on-load and locating a fault as soon as it has occurred.

In time, as the conditions leading to a cable fault become established through condition monitoring / experience, the system should be capable of pre-emptive fault prediction.

Ideally, installation of solution is non-intrusive and can be fitted to installed cable system.

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Existing market-ready technologies
  • Established solutions from other sectors of industry which can be adapted for this application
  • Development proposals based on existing competences

Challenge background

SSE Renewables is a leading wind farm operator in the UK and Ireland.

Array (inter-turbine) cables are installed in jointed lengths from one turbine to its neighbour, forming a string (collection circuit) feeding the substation.

Array cable faults are not automatically detected and located. In the event of failure, a visit to the relevant substation is required to confirm failure status. A megger tester (or similar) is then connected at the associated substation and used to predict a fault location.

All wind turbines on the affected array are offline until the fault is located, and a repair is implemented. This typically results in significant downtime and lost revenue.

Fault finding and repair requires significant deployment of both internal resource and external contractors. All tasks are actioned under the required safety standards and permits; however, teams are required to work in often challenging conditions on site (especially in winter months).

Across the fleet a reduction of technician intervention, turbine downtime and hazardous tasks is a priority. The sought solution should contribute to these goals.

Project stages

  • Feasibility assessment
  • Technology development (immature products)
  • Trial at onshore wind farm
  • Consideration for wider fleet deployment

Proposal requirement

The deadline for proposals is Friday 20 November 2020.

Proposals should include:

  • Description of solution
  • Technology readiness
  • Development and commercialisation plan
  • Indicative costs
  • Proof of concept data, reference cases, reference to publications

Next steps

Send your questions and proposals by email to: