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November 10, 2020

ABB successfully trials speed drive for subsea power network

ABB and OneSubsea have announced the successful trial of a subsea power component, a key accomplishment in the firms’ ongoing attempts to develop an effective underwater power distribution network.

By JP Casey

ABB and OneSubsea have announced the successful trial of a subsea power component, a key accomplishment in the firms’ ongoing attempts to develop an effective underwater power distribution network.

The component, the variable speed drive (VSD), is a pump driver that controls the speeds of other components, such as motors and fans, and is particularly useful at slowing such devices to ensure that energy is not wasted in powering components that do not require such power. A report from Efficient Power Solutions found that, according to the Carbon Trust, a VSD can save as much as 50% of the total energy used in an industrial system by slowing a fan or pump motor by just 20%, highlighting the exponential improvements in efficiency that the component can deliver.

ABB’s drive in particular can ensure the reliable supply of up to 100MW of power over distances of up to 600km and up to 3km below the surface of the water, achievements that make it an integral part of the company’s long-running project to deliver an effective subsea power system.

The company demonstrated the commercial viability of its system in November 2019, and while ABB has been internally confident of the system’s effectiveness, demonstrating its benefits to other parties has proven a challenge. The VSD, partially funded by industry partners Chevron, Total, and Equinor, was shown to be effective at a shallow water testing facility on Horsøy, off the coast of Bergen in Norway, and could be one of the final steps before the system is rolled out across the offshore industry.

“The integrated test proves that we have a robust and reliable high power subsea VSD for submerged pumps and compressors like OneSubsea’s WGC6000 and those from other manufacturers,” said ABB Norway managing director Per Erik Holsten. “Our team rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic restrictions to enable this test to take place.”

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