Abstract

Offshore power cables are typically designed to have a service life of around twenty-five years. A pattern is emerging where these cables only last ten years or even as little as two. The main consensus as to why the service life is so short is due to a combination of fatigue and fretting/wear damages of the copper conductors and water treeing in the insulation material. This study presents a method that can be used to analyse the structural integrity of dynamic subsea power cables and estimate their service life determined by the factors above. The numerical simulation models developed and used to carry out global and local fatigue analysis of dynamic subsea power cables are presented, together with methods and models for assessing fretting, wear and growth of water tree defects. A methodology for structural integrity assessment that includes all these factors is proposed. A dynamic subsea power cable connected to a wave energy converter is used as the case study for comparison of the service life when these factors are considered compared to when, e.g., the growth of water trees is excluded. A numerical sensitivity analysis demonstrates that the value of the seawater's electrical conductivity and the insulation material's threshold stress-intensity factor greatly influence the cable's service life.

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