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Fire and Blast Protection for Offshore Substations

Offshore Substation imageThe advent of large scale offshore wind farms is calling on more sophisticated technology for transmission and distribution into the onshore grid. Many of these systems utilise high voltage DC transmission (HVDC), that ultimately will form part of the international Supergrid.

The announcement of the UK Round 3, facilitating 25GW of new offshore wind by 2020, will advance a new era of offshore substation technology, and simultaneously a growing need to keep that energy transmission safe and secure.

Protek® lightweight composite enclosures for transformers and other critical equipment provide an economic solution for fire and blast protection.

The SCS design team understands the hazardous environment offshore and has learned to design for this harsh environment - inclement weather - wide temperature range - relentless salt spray and corrosion risk  throughout the platform’s life - typically 30 years. In addition pollution prevention is high on the list of risk mitigation.

Cutaway of substation protection modules
Cutaway of substation protection modules
Substation protection module
Substation protection module

Technical Integrity, Zero Maintenance, Low Life Cost

The size and complexity of offshore substations demands that the investment is safeguarded and the  personnel who maintain them can work safely in a low risk environment. Composite enclosures for  transformers and other critical equipment as well as walk-ways and escape-ways provide an economic solution requiring no inspection or routine maintenance and therefore low life cycle cost. Each area is carefully assessed for fire and explosion risk and protection structures are designed accordingly.

The lightweight ProTek® composite multi-layer structure is virtually inert, thus providing exceptional corrosion and weather resistance over a 30 year life cycle - significantly higher than spray-up and steel systems - and can be easily assembled onshore or offshore . ProTek® composite panels are mounted on a corrosion resistant steel frame to resist severe blast up to 1.5 barg and environmental wind and snow loads, thus providing an extremely rigid but lightweight structure. Blast relief vents may be included within the design to prevent overpressure build up whilst allowing quick and easy on-site installation.

Capital investment and operating costs have to be carefully managed whilst operational security, reliability and safety have to be maximised. Here SCS experience plays a key role with hundreds of ProTek® installations already installed offshore in the North Sea.

ProTek® Offshore Substation product performance:

  • Fire Protection up to 2.5 hours Hydrocarbon (H-Class), Jet fire (J-Class) or Pool fire and Cellulosic (A-Class) fires - all fully certified by third parties, who have witnessed full scale tests.  These tests achieve heat flux up to 350 kW / square metre.

  • Blast Protection up to 1.5barg over pressure, plus suction loads – fully third party certified.  

  • Jet Fire after Blast - Tested to 1.3 barg followed by full scale jet fire.

  • Thermal Insulation - keeps equipment temperatures below 45ºC whilst jet fire outside is more than 1200ºC.  NO additional thermal insulation is required as it is incorporated into the ProTek® structure.

  • Sound Attenuation – up to 38DB noise reduction (fully satisfies NORSOK R-004 sub sections 6, 7 and 8)

  • Weather resistance - worldwide environmental conditions offshore onshore and subsea -50 to +50ºC continuous use and high wind and snow loads and ultraviolet and chemical resistance.  High temperature products for internal areas and modules can accommodate up to 120ºC service temperature

  • Zero pollution risk to water, air or personnel

  • Operations experience is very good permitting fast and easy installation and maintenance access to equipment using doors, lift off hatches etc. - means lower risk and lower cost.

  • Installation requires no hot work as it relies on mechanical fixings requiring no special skill or equipment and can be carried out by incumbent local site installation crews.  

  • No maintenance whatever is required using ProTek® products – we have examples that have been installed for [ago 1990 ago] years with no problems of any kind and the product has a design life for this application of at least 30 years.

  • Products are lightweight minimizing structural support requirements, facilitating rapid installation and ensuring low HSE risk during operations

  • Zero claims in over [ago 1990 ago] years in Oil and Gas installations worldwide

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