German utility RWE and grid technology company Smart Wires will collaborate to focus on advanced power flow control technology to optimise offshore wind generation connections.

The companies have entered a memorandum of understanding to explore the application of Smart Wires’ SmartValve to long HVAC or HVDC cable circuits.

This will enhance the integration of offshore wind power into the grid.

SmartValve technology has the potential to rapidly and cost-effectively increase transmission capacity, improve stability margins and reduce lead times for critical equipment onshore and offshore.

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The advanced power flow control (APFC) technology unlocks capacity by managing power flows, either by redistributing power away from congested circuits or by utilising underused ones.

The partners will also investigate SmartValve’s capabilities in offshore cable management and power regulation.

The joint investigation will concentrate on accelerating the connection process and reducing the need for additional grid infrastructure onshore and offshore.

RWE offshore wind electrical control and instrumentation chief engineer Dirk Döring stated: “RWE is engaged in the development, design and construction of large and complex offshore wind farms and transmission infrastructure, and the use of innovative technologies such as advanced power flow control has the potential to offer significant benefits.

“Therefore we are happy to join with Smart Wires to explore the use of their SmartValve technology in real-life development applications.”

Renewable energy projects, particularly in offshore wind, often require substantial grid enhancements or new infrastructure to reliably transport electricity to demand centres.

Such upgrades are typically capital-intensive, time-consuming and prone to delays and cost overruns.

Offshore generation connections present unique challenges as they must be integrated with the existing onshore transmission network and frequently necessitate building new offshore grids.

The two companies will explore how this technology can facilitate the integration of offshore wind generation using either alternating or direct current technologies.

Smart Wires business development vice-president Mark Norton stated: “We are delighted to collaborate with leading renewable developers like RWE who are committed to finding ways to quickly and cost-effectively connect offshore wind.

“It is exciting to kick off this work, which will demonstrate the unique capabilities of APFC technology to make the connection of offshore grids more timely and efficient and reduce the offshore infrastructure needed. We look forward to this work driving many successful projects that use APFC technology in this new application area.” 

RWE also recently bought the UK’s Norfolk offshore wind zone, comprising three projects, from Vattenfall.