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A Reliability Evaluation of Offshore HVDC Transmission Network Options

MacIver, Callum and Bell, Keith (2015) A Reliability Evaluation of Offshore HVDC Transmission Network Options. PhD thesis, University Of Strathclyde.

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There are ambitious targets in place for the development of large amounts of offshore renewable energy in the coming years. The offshore wind sector is expected to provide the vast majority of the projected growth which means large scale and far from shore projects are likely to become common. The transmission distances involved suggest HVDC technology is likely to be deployed and analysis to date has suggested there will be value in delivering co-ordinated offshore grids as opposed to simpler radial connection to shore. However, there are numerous technology and design options available for the delivery of offshore HVDC networks and, given the offshore climate can makes access for component maintenance or repair challenging, the reliability performance of different options is an important factor which has not been explored in much of the existing literature. This thesis details a novel methodology for investigating the reliability of different offshore grid design options for the connection of offshore wind power to shore or the interconnection of regions. A sequential Monte Carlo simulation methodology is used that allows investigation of realistic offshore phenomena such as the weather dependency of component repair times. A number of case studies are examined and a full cost benefit analysis is performed which compares the capital and operational costs, electrical losses and reliability performance of each grid option. There is shown to be clear value in options that include a degree of inherent redundancy and it is also shown that alternative protection strategies which avoid the use of expensive DC circuit breakers are potentially viable at lower cost and little expense to performance. An investigation of the key drivers behind overall offshore grid reliability is also made and it is found that low probability, high impact faults such as transmission branch failures have the greatest influence.