Sustainable grid expansion: trenchless installation technologies for underground cables
Proceedings Publication Date
Dr. Marc Peters
Marc Peters
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The development of renewable energies and the construction of a sustainable power grid are the challenges for future energy supply. In order to achieve the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable solutions such as offshore wind or hydropower, these sources must be developed and connected to a sustainable grid. This includes the provision of sufficient transmission capacity from origin to consumers, while pushing trenchless installation of underground cables for existing networks as well as in the planning of new ones.

Due to the public environmental awareness, smart trenchless installation methods are required for fast and safe installation of underground cables, with minimal impact on the surroundings. There are three major application fields for trenchless technologies in transmission grid construction: the onshore connection of offshore wind farms, cross-country installations of medium and high voltage cables, and inner-city cable tunnels. Furthermore, trenchless methods play a key role when obstacles like water or traffic ways have to be crossed. Proven tunnelling and pipeline methods are used to install steel casings, plastic cable ducts or tunnels. New trenchless construction methods and the further development of existing technologies now offer suppliers, grid operators and construction companies a wide range of methods for realizing projects. Today, trenchless technologies cover the entire geological spectrum, with high flexibility in terms of diameters, drive lengths and depths of the network sections to be installed. New technologies like E-Power Pipe show their strengths where the long-established methods like HDD reach their limits in terms of feasibility.

As the requirements of pipeline and underground cable construction are quite similar and encounter the same challenges, the industry needs to get prepared. Thus, contractors have to equip themselves with the latest technologies and equipment to be able to cover the large range of project conditions.

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