Flexible aluminium power cable for wind turbines

Paul Boughton

Aluminium power cable technology for wind turbines took a giant leap forward today with the introduction of HELUKABEL’s HELUWIND WK POWERLINE ALU. This diesel locomotive (DLO)-like power cable is made of finely-stranded aluminium and is highly flexible, offering customers the performance capabilities of a standard copper cable, but at a fraction of the cost.
“Since the POWERLINE ALU is made of aluminium its weight is reduced by nearly 50 percent, it is quicker and easier to install, as well as being less expensive than comparable copper power cables,” says Uwe Schenk, Global Segment Manager – Wind at HELUKABEL. “Given the uncertainty of the PTCs and the need for reducing turbine costs (manufacturing, installation and maintenance), the POWERLINE ALU is our attempt to further the development of the industry in the United States and Canada by making wind turbines more affordable.”
Aluminuim power cables produced today are stiff and unable to bend, which prevents the installation of a single cable length. Wind turbine installers are forced to interrupt the cable by splicing it up to 80 times in four tower sections to connect the stiff aluminium cable across the length of the down tower. Once the base is reached, an additional interruption in the cable is needed to make the flex connection to the inverter. This installation process takes two to three days.
The installation advantage of the flexible POWERLINE ALU is that one length of cable can run from behind the drip loop in the down tower area directly to the inverter in the tower base. It requires only one splice, between the copper loop cable and the power line, and a crimp cable lug to connect the power line to the inverter. This enhanced installation procedure takes only four to six hours.
Additionally, reducing the splice count to one improves the safety and protection of the turbine’s power cable since most technical failures are caused by bad splices.
Constructed using a finely-stranded aluminum core and wrapped with specially-formulated, heat-resistant insulation and outer jacket, the POWERLINE ALU is not only highly flexible, but extremely durable with resistance to UV-light, oil and fire. Additional characteristics include:
* Broad operating temperature range –  -20°C (flexing) and -40°C (fixed) to 105°C (both).
* Tight bending radius – 10x cable diameter (flexing), 4x cable diameter (fixed).
* Recyclable (ROHS).
* Halogen-free (LSZH).
The POWERLINE ALU comes in two standard types, 0.6/1 KV and 1.8/3 KV, and can be ordered in bulk or pre-assembled (includes tube connector and crimped cable lug). Both cable types are available as robust versions, which feature an abrasion-resistant and cut-resistant outer jacket.
Currently, the POWERLINE ALU is CE compliant with UL/CSA approval upon request.
For more information, visit www.helukabel.com