Prysmian | The world’s thickest aluminium core


Not all materials are the same. How Prysmian exchanged copper for aluminium to develop a completely new high-voltage cable.

Copper is traditionally an important component in cable constructions due to its good conductive properties. However, copper is also a heavy material which is very expensive and prone to theft. Aluminium could offer an alternative, but it has different properties. This makes the development of a thick, high-voltage cable using this material an extremely complex technical challenge.

In an intensive and costly R&D project lasting 1.5 years, Prysmian developed the world’s thickest high-voltage cable (with a cross-section of 3,500 mm2) with an aluminium core. Prysmian also redeveloped the cable sheath. There is also a “metallic screen” around the aluminium conductor and the synthetic layer. This is a sheathed ring made from aluminium. This is a more environmentally aware option compared to the normal lead sheathing.

This innovation produced a number of benefits. Firstly, it considerably reduced the weight of the cable, which is very beneficial when laying the cable. Furthermore, constructing the cable without using a copper core makes it much cheaper and less risk for theft.

This innovative cable system has since been successfully used in the Netherlands for transporting energy over longer distances, including in wind farms in the North Sea and in the energy supply system in the Randstad conurbation. Grid operator Tennet is calling this a world first!

Plus Projects advised on how this project could be incorporated within the R&D subsidy (WBSO), which significantly lowered the development costs.

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