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I. Introduction to Europacable
Europacable is:
‰ Association of European Cable Manufacturers including:

Europacable aims to:

‰ promote of the use of underground cables for electricity transmission;
‰ ensure the complete and correct understanding of the technical specifications of
underground cables by relevant stakeholders.

Europacable has developed a realistic position for cable transmission solutions:

‰ Extra high voltage underground cables are rarely appropriate for an entire new AC
power transmission project;
‰ When a 100% overhead route is unacceptable, however, underground cables are
an appropriate solution to unblock the project. Application of partial
undergrounding of a line can provide a compromise to allow a project to proceed
without years of legal contests.

I. Introduction to European Copper Institute

‰ Joint venture between International Copper

Association (representing world’s leading mining
companies) and European copper industry
‰ Key competencies:
– market intelligence and policy analysis
– EU regulatory issue management
– environment and health science
– advocacy & education
– market development and defence
– media relations
‰ Based in Brussels since 1998

II. Technical questions on extra high voltage
underground cables
1. 400 kV XLPE Cable
2. 400kV XLPE Cable Joint Bay
3. Trench size
4. Constructions issues – urban areas
5. Construction issues – countryside trenching
6. Transmission losses
7. Impact on the network
8. Environmental impacts
9. Reliability
10. Costs

1. 400 kV XLPE Cable
400 kV XLPE Cable:
‰ Used for commercial purposes for more than 25
‰ current state of the art technology
‰ easier installation and jointing
‰ environmentally low risk
‰ almost maintenance free

400 kV XLPE cable design

1 Copper conductor
2 Semiconductor
3 XLPE insulation
4 Semiconductor
5 Waterblocking
6 Welded aluminium sheath
7 PE outer sheath

2. 400 kV XLPE Cable Joint Bay
‰ The 400 kV cables can be delivered in lengths up to 1000 m
‰ Cable joint bays - generally unobtrusive underground structures
‰ Temporary tents are set-up only during installation
‰ Only exceptionally are cable joint bays buried in specific
compounds (13m X 3m)

3. Trench size

Width of trench:
‰ Dependent on the number of cables
‰ Number of cables depends on desired
transmission capacity
‰ Transmission capacity needs to be
defined realistically
‰ In principle, a trench for underground
cables is not as wide as the right of way
required for overhead lines
Overhead-Underground Transition Stations:
‰ Can be size of tennis court , but in
some cases a football field
‰ At voltages of 275kV and below, can
be applied directly onto a pylon

4. Construction issues – urban areas
‰ Trench per system: ca 1.5 m deep, 1-2 m wide
‰ Access for heavy machinery needs to be available along the line
‰ Underground cables can easily be placed next to, under or between
‰ Subsequently the area is re-instated to original condition

5. Constructions issues - Countryside Trenching

‰ Construction time depends mainly on ground conditions

‰ Trenching requires access for heavy machinery along the line
‰ A variety of “non-invasive” procedures are available to pass under sensitive
areas or streets or nature reserves
‰ Depending on the type of vegetation, landscape can be completely re-
instated within 18-24 months

6. Transmission losses

‰ Transmission losses both for overhead lines and

underground cables depend upon the system design and

‰ Therefore it is not possible give a generic answer;

‰ An independent study (ForWind) has determined losses for

one project:
“Underground cable have lower transmission losses than overhead
lines under specific parameters because due to thermal reasons
underground cables have a larger conductor”

‰ Increased losses in transmission system require additional

power generation.

7. Impact on the network
‰ Insertion of new interconnections in existing networks require
detailed planning;
‰ Studies on several 400 kV transmission grids show that the
characteristics of underground cables can in many cases be
beneficial to the overall performance of the network;
‰ A grid-study should be carried out for very long cable
connections, i.e. more than 20 km, to evaluate whether additional
installations for reactive compensation are needed;
‰ If needed, these additional measures can be applied at existing
substations or corridors and do not require any extra compound
area for installation.

8. Environmental impacts
‰ Possible heating of ground:
– Operating temperature of an underground cable depends on the
current carried, cable resistance and loss of the resulting heat into
the surroundings
– How much heat is distributed to the surrounding soil depends on the
filling material used around the cable
– Under extreme conditions of use, the soil directly over the trench can
heat up by approximately 2 °C
– This could cause drying of the soil under certain circumstances
‰ There are no restrictions for the cultivation of land, although
vegetation with deep roots must be avoided;
‰ Underground cables emit no electric field and can be
engineered to emit a lower magnetic field than an OHL;
‰ Underground cables do not create any environemntal
burden through the creation of noise.

9. Reliability & Life expectancy
‰ Disturbance of underground cables occurs less frequently than for
overhead lines - Underground cables are not affected by severe
Only outside influences can disturb and damage underground cables
In use, cables do not require maintenance;
‰ Reliability of XLPE-isolated cables:
– Producers guarantee homogeneous cable quality according to
international standards (IEC 62067);
– Repairs caused by damage:
• Quick and precise location of errors with modern monitoring
• Reparation time 2 - 3 weeks (if, as recommended, spare
parts are kept in stock);
‰ Careful long-term testing has been conducted and life expectancy of
XLPE-insulated cables is approximately 30 - 40 years.

10. Costs
‰ Underground cables are – at installation – more expensive than
overhead lines due to higher product and installation costs;
‰ Cost comparisons often only address costs of installation and ignore
lifecycle costs such as losses, outage costs, maintenance,
decommissioning, costs of delay in getting authorisations & impact on
those affected by the line (e.g. visual amenity, property value);
¾ A comprehensive life-cycle analysis should take these into consideration
‰ Every project is different and it is not possible to make generic cost
‰ Depending on ground and surface characteristics, the cost of installation
works can increase up to 60%, which will benefit local companies;
‰ Partial undergrounding can create predictability for planning and have a
positive effect on authorisation procedures and costs;
‰ Latest life-cycle analysis confirm that the cost factor compared to
overhead lines can be as little as 2–5 times for many situations.

III. Examples of ongoing underground
cable projects in Europe

1. Germany: Lower Saxony

‰ Proposal to build 80km 380kV line from Ganderkesee-St.Hulfe

‰ Proposal (Erdkabelgesetz) adopted in December 2007 by the
Parliament of Lower Saxony
‰ Legislation requires use of UGC if proposed OHL is:
In proximity of buildings: 200 meters
In proximity of residential areas: 400 meters
Where crossing environmentally protected areas

2. Austria: Salzburg link

‰ Ongoing debate-opposition to full OHL St Peter

‰ January 2007: Austrian Energy
Agency published a study
recommending the use of partial
undergrounding to unblock project.
‰ August 2007: Minister Eisl asked Elixhausen

KEMA to assess whether partial Koppel

undergrounding of Salzburg part II is

Bad Vigaun
technically feasible
‰ 28 January 2008: Presentation of
KEMA study. Cabling is state of the art
technology and partial undergrounding
(around 40km) would only add €4 to Kaprun

the average bill.

3. Scotland: Beauly – Denny 400kV line
‰ Application for 220km 400/275kV OHL TSO Beauly PA
from Beauly to Denny submitted to Scottish area

Ministers in October 2005 by transmission Highland

divisions of Scottish & Southern Energy &
Scottish Power; Cairngorms
National Park
‰ Significant opposition from a variety of SSE
groups wanting partial cable solution (in 5
areas) to safeguard health, preserve visual
Perth &
amenity, cultural heritage & protect nature Kinross
and tourism;
‰ 4 Planning Authorities (PAs) plus CNPA Glen Quaich

& 17,000 groups/individuals objected;

Braco &
‰ Scottish Ministers agreed to a Public Muthill
Inquiry which took place throughout 2007; Stirling
Scottish Stirling
‰ TSOs accept viable cabling routes exist; Power
‰ Inquiry Report to be submitted in 2008 & Denny

decision due in 2009.

4. Italy: The Turbigo-Rho 400 kV Project

Power station
2560 MW

Overhead line 380 kV Existing OHL 380 kV Milan

Underground cable 380 kV
County borders
Transition stations

4. Italy: the Turbigo-Rho 400 kV Project

The undergrounding of part of Timeline:

40 km long line led to the 1991 Start of discussions
speeding up of authorization 1994 Initial approval of overhead line
procedures. The line was Until 2004 OHL approval blocked
necessary for the June 2004 Decision on partial undergrounding
reinforcement of the March 2005 Construction of cable (8 months)
transmission grid in a very June 2006 Activation of the line/cable
congested area avoiding the
risk of future blackouts. Benefits of the project:
The max. power rating of the • To overcome the generation limits of the Turbigo power
circuit is 2.2 GVA. station and reduce congestion
• To improve voltage control in the Milan area
• To reduce transmission losses

5. Number of EHV Cable Installations Globally
1994- 2005
94-95 96-97 98-99 00-01 02-03 04-05
* Projects started

6. Length of km of EHV underground cable
220-400kV: 1996- 2006
1996 2006 Change %

Austria 48 59 23
Denmark 31 52 68
France 600 914 52
Germany 99 110 11
Ireland 64 106 66
Italy 130 231 78
Netherlands 6 12.5 108
Spain 31 558 1700
UK 553 662 20

Source: CIGRE 338 December 2007

7. Examples of major 400kV projects in Europe
Location Project Cable circuits Time
x period
Length (km)
Copenhagen Elimination of OHLs in urban area 1x12, 1x22 1996/9
Berlin Connect West/East systems 2x12 1996-00
Vale of York (UK) Area of outstanding beauty 4x6 2000/1
Madrid Barajas Airport expansion 2x13 2002/3
Jutland, DK Area of outstanding beauty, 2x14 2002/3
waterway & semi urban areas
London London Ring 1x20 2002/5
Rotterdam Randstad “ring” waterway crossings 2x2.1 2004/5
Vienna Provide power to centre of city 2x5.5 2004/5
Milan Section of Turbigo-Rho line 2x8.5 2005/6

IV. Discussion
‰ The completion of the European internal electricity grid is of fundamental
‰ To stabilize the European electricity grid
‰ To create extra transmission capacities (to cover new power stations
as well as renewable energies)
‰ XLPE cables are a modern, reliable transmission technology;
‰ Europacable believes that extra high voltage underground cables are
rarely appropriate for an entire new AC power transmission project;
‰ Partial undergrounding is an alternative for:
– Land with outstanding natural or environmental heritage or
vulnerable eco-systems;
– Areas where land is unavailable or planning consent is difficult to
obtain within an acceptable timeframe;
‰ Costs for underground cables can de reduced to a multiple of 2 - 5 times
when the whole life-cycle cost is assessed.