Prysmian to manage record market growth


Prysmian Powerlink CEO Hakan Ozmen explains why the company decided to invest in a new installation vessel just months after it christened the state-of-the-art Leonardo da Vinci in July 2022.

Continued efficiency in order execution amid growing volumes

Demand for renewable energy has never been stronger, driven by ambitious decarbonization targets set by governments around the world to slow the pace of global warming by mid-century. Prysmian has seen its order backlog at the mid of May 2023 soar to €9.1 billion, and now plans to double capacity to meet the need for its advanced cables that help make the energy transition from fossil fuels to clean energy possible.

“As we ramp up our production capacity, we need to match it with more underwater installation capacity because we intend to continue to offer a complete turnkey experience,” says Hakan, EVP Projects BU & CEO Prysmian Powerlink. “The new vessel will help us execute our significant order book more efficiently.”

Hakan Ozmen

EVP Projects BU & CEO Prysmian Powerlink

The new 171-meter ship, which will be ready during the first quarter of 2025, will match the capacity and performance of the Leonardo da Vinci plus a few improvements, explains Hakan. She will produce lower C02 emissions than our current cable laying vessels thanks to a greater battery capacity, and, like Leonardo da Vinci, will be able to double the amount of installation campaigns compared to Prysmian’s other vessels.

This increased submarine cable installation capacity will help Prysmian keep up with the blistering growth in the submarine cables market after the Project BU revenue rose 30% in 2022. Three years ago, this market’s annual revenue was €3 billion. A year ago, that number had risen to €8 billion. The market is currently worth between €13 and €14 billion excluding so-called framework agreements that are becoming increasingly common in Europe as transmissions systems operators scramble to lock in cable supplies.

Future growth will continue to be driven mainly by Europe, says Hakan, while the United States is becoming a “very strong” market despite delays in certain projects because of pricing hiccups caused by inflation.

Achieving new milestones with top projects

Prysmian Group is playing a significant role in the German HVDC cable projects, one of the most important energy transition infrastructure works in Europe. Prysmian’s recent €700 million award for SuedOstLink 2 reaffirms Prysmian’s role in the German HVDC cable projects -- SuedOstLink, SuedLink and A-Nord -- which were already awarded to Prysmian for an amount of over €1.5 billion. Prysmian is currently manufacturing the 2,300 kilometers of cable needed, and installation is set to begin in 18 months’ time, said Hakan.

Work on the Viking Link project, the world’s longest interconnector, to link Denmark and the UK is coming along well and is near completion. When completed in 2023 it will enable the more effective use of renewable energy – allowing the exchange of energy surplus between Britain and Denmark – access to sustainable electricity generation for over 1.4 million households, potentially reducing the cost of electricity and reinforcing the system reliability ensuring zero-carbon generation, he said.

On March 3, Prysmian was awarded a €1.8 billion contract by Dutch transmission system operator TenneT for the two grid connection projects in the North Sea, IJmuiden Ver Alpha and Nederwiek 1 for a total of 4 GW.

“This will be the first submarine 525 kV windfarm interconnector. We applied to the German HVDC cable projects to underwater installation for the first time”, he said.

This new technology is a significant step forward for power transmission systems and the development of innovative and sustainable cable solutions in the industry. indeed, the advantages of cost and speed that this system brings will increase the overall projects efficiency.

Furthermore, the Group has recently been awarded a new contract worth €800 million for the Biscay Gulf project relating to a new submarine power interconnection between France and Spain on behalf of INELFE, a 50:50 joint venture between the Spanish grid operator Red Eléctrica and the French grid operator Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE).

“This project is highly strategic because it falls within the European Commission’s Projects of Common Interest, as it increases power supply reliability, enables the further integration of renewable energy into electricity grids and contributes to creating a more efficient system”, stated Hakan.

Three examples of technological innovation

The market growth opportunities flowing from the energy transition create new technological challenges. The first is laying interconnections in ultra-deep water of up to 3,000 meters, which is needed particularly in the Mediterranean. In terms of installation, this requires specific technology capable of positioning the Leonardo da Vinci dynamically by communicating with satellites. The vessel must also have enough power thrusts to remain steady and avoid damaging the cable.

The second challenge involves floating offshore wind farms. These platforms are currently being tested both in the Mediterranean and the North Sea for their effectiveness. Prysmian is supplying 66 kV cables to multiple different types of platforms for testing.

“They are capable of going up to 66 kV, and we are also internally testing qualification for 132 kV beyond that. This increase in transmission capacity is meant to accommodate the need for larger export cables from floating wind farms to the shore,” explains Hakan.

Lastly, Prysmian Group is working on finding alternatives to lead in their submarine cables.

“We’ve already eliminated it in many products, and its part our product roadmap to eliminate lead for underwater cables,” says Hakan.

Hakan Ozmen

EVP Projects BU & CEO Prysmian Powerlink