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Driving the industry through risk readiness and evaluation

Driving the industry through risk readiness and evaluation

“Using risk indices in a methodical and efficient way is critical in the development and in early stages of Prysmian Group’s turnkey and pioneering cable systems projects. They help to increase the solidity of technical solutions and to achieve successful results”


Marco Marelli

Projects BU System Design Engineering Director at Prysmian Group

On the technical side, several indexes have been adopted by Prysmian in recent years to evaluate and pinpoint the risks linked to new technologies and their innovative features. These include Technology Readiness Level (TRL), an index introduced by NASA in the eighties which assess an evolving technology’s maturity. Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment (TRRA) is a further developed tool incorporating TRL along with other elements, expanding the concept of risk assessment to early adopt suitable mitigations.


“Risk mitigation is done in different ways. We try to get to a readiness that is sufficient to ensure that we will be delivering the project with the right performances: customer’s need, time, safety, budget, reliability, and sustainability,” said Marelli.

Prysmian has conducted these types of assessments on several projects that pioneer new technologies. Examples include the German HVDC cable projects which will carry renewable power over hundreds of kilometers from the country’s north to south; the Tyrrhenian Link submarine interconnection between Sicily, Sardinia and the Italian peninsula; and the dynamic cables that Prysmian is producing for floating offshore wind farms such as Provence Grande Large and Gruissan projects.

The decision to install the latest high voltage cable technology from Prysmian for SuedLink, SuedOstLink and A-Nord implicated risks related to technology that had never been applied in the field, as well as for the size of the projects, which are the world’s longest underground cable systems. Several tests were carried out beforehand to see if production could meet the requirements, Marelli explained.

“As 525 kV HVDC is a new technology both for XLPE and for our PLaser, we made several prototypes even before getting the contracts and we tested massively before we went to the market, to be sure to be able to deliver the huge amount of cables required – Prysmian is the only cable maker being involved in all the three German HVDC cable projects,” said Marelli

“As a mitigation, we ran a robust industrialization, longer than usual, manufacturing long production runs prior to project mass production, proving to ourselves that the production was consistent over time,” he said.

Prysmian also carried out TRL and TRRA evaluations for the Tyrrhenian Link, which is set to be the deepest submarine power cable ever installed in the world, reaching depths of more than 2000 meters. When the company was originally evaluating this project, it established that its technological readiness level was not proven so it started to analyze how it could ensure it was ready to proceed.

"We identified the aspects of this technology that needed to be validated for such depth, and we made various tests. These tests eventually helped us gain confidence that the technological readiness was sufficiently high," said Marelli.

Some of the issues investigated were how the cable-laying vessel could withstand the force associated to the laying of a cable that could be more than 2000 meters in depth and how parts of the cable itself could handle the expected mechanical stresses. Additionally, assessments were necessary to check that the cable could cope with the extreme water pressure at these depths once it was installed.

Energy transition is also driving the industry to implement new solutions like floating offshore wind generation. Electrical connections of floating structures need dynamic cables that Prysmian is manufacturing, which need to withstand the action of waves and currents for decades without breaking. Marelli said the company used the adopted risk indexes and assessments, that resulted to be similar to those applied in the oil and gas industry, and carried out studies based on the same concepts, transferred to power cables.



“We did a lot of studies, tests, and calculations to check how to design the cables and systems. We can verify behaviors for the cable itself by making a mechanical test to prove the need to withstand movements for 20 to 30 years,” he said, adding that they were able to verify that the same movement could be done over an extended period of time, proving the technology was ready.




Additionally in this case, Prysmian examined aspects that were not under the company’s management, such as mechanical accessories and ancillaries that are not manufactured internally. Suppliers were asked to prove the technological readiness of their own products, and through calculation and testing, Prysmian was able to confirm the readiness of the combination of technologies forming the entire system.

This is how Prysmian maintains its market leadership, by testing and evaluating its products before they are ready for the market, minimizing technical risks to ensure it will deliver only the highest performing, most efficient and sustainable cable solutions.