JDR Cables and ORE Catapult

A UK partnership delivering global solutions and regional impact

Published 15 December 2021 Last updated 15 December 2021

JDR Cables and ORE Catapult share a highly successful, decade-long partnership of critical subsea cable testing, research and development that has enabled JDR to bring new and highly innovative cable products to the offshore wind market.

Subsequently, JDR has invested significantly in its UK manufacturing footprint – most recently announcing a £130m facility to be set up in Cambois, Northumberland – whilst increasing exports to some of the most high-profile offshore wind projects around the world. In addition, JDR has established education and training for its employees with local education providers. In parallel, ORE Catapult has increased its capability and investment in its high voltage services – as well as apprenticeships and internships – to continue to provide world-leading research, test and validation expertise for JDR and maintain a UK collaboration success story at a time of substantial growth in the offshore wind industry.

66kV – A homegrown innovation partnership leading to UK investment and global exports

In 2016, ORE Catapult worked with JDR Cables to bring its pioneering 66kV cable technology to market, providing electrical testing throughout its development, qualification and type testing programmes. The scaling up of cable voltage from 33kV to 66kV was essential in response to the increase in size and capacity of offshore wind farms, placing greater demands on the inter-array subsea cables that connect the turbines and substations. By doubling the voltage of the industry-standard 33kV inter-array cable, JDR’s technology allows increased transmission between turbines at higher-capacity wind farms – a vital factor in reducing the cost of offshore wind, but also essential to JDR Cables’ ability to compete in the global market, as well as grow and expand its UK operations.

James Young, Chief Strategy and Compliance Officer, JDR Cables said:

We identified early on the industry’s need to move from 33kV to 66kV, and that we wanted to develop a number of different cable technologies, so we worked together with ORE Catapult to test those products and validate and verify their performance. That resulted in significant investment by both JDR Cables and ORE Catapult and as a consequence we’ve been able to demonstrate that our cables are designed for the long term in the offshore wind sector and that has really given us an edge.

The UKAS-accredited high voltage laboratory, at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, is one of the few facilities in the world with the required capacity to carry out automated step-breakdown testing of 66kV systems using water terminations. Its capabilities include the ability to exert up to 20 times the rated operating stresses on the cable. As a long-term test partner of JDR Cables, ORE Catapult developed a bespoke facility to validate and de-risk the new cables, giving the Northeast-based firm – and its potential clients – the confidence that this first-of-its-kind technology can withstand the higher loads and harsh conditions offshore. The development, qualification and type testing programme included validation of terminations and cable accessories, and was inherently collaborative: the supply chain, developers and other stakeholders played key roles.

Securing contracts, exports and growth

After the unveiling of the new cables in July 2016, what happened next was unprecedented. JDR was awarded its first 66kV array cable contract in December that year, to manufacture over 20km of cable for Vatenfall’s 96.8MW European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay1. April 2017 saw further success for the cable maker, with a contract to supply 155km of 66kV cables at ScottishPower Renewables’ €100m East Anglia One – the world‘s first commercial deployment of the technology.

The 66kV success story continued, as JDR received contract awards in 2018 to supply 100km of cable for Orsted’s Hornsea 2 project2, one of the largest wind farm developments in the world. In 2019, JDR entered its 66kV product into the floating offshore wind market3 when Equinor contracted them to supply dynamic cable for first floating offshore wind project to power oil and gas platforms, HyWind Tampen.

Most recently, in August 2021, Jan De Nul Group announced that it has subcontracted JDR Cables to supply and install 130 miles of inter-array cables for the Vineyard Wind 1 project4. The 66kV inter-array cables connecting 62 GE Haliade-X turbines will transfer electricity to an offshore substation for transmission to the grid, further demonstrating JDR’s continued export and new market success as a result of working with ORE Catapult to develop and bring the 66kV cable product to market.

Young continued:

ORE Catapult plays that pivotal role in enabling us to get our technologies out there and satisfy our customers that we have the product assurance in place to make sure our product is successful in their offshore wind projects.

Investment, job creation and collaboration in Northeast England

The success of the 66kV cable product has been underpinned by JDR’s commitment to Northeast operations and ORE Catapult’s UKAS accredited high voltage laboratories in Blyth to support JDR’s research and development programmes. This partnership was bolstered by a major announcement from JDR Cables that it will invest an initial £130m in a new manufacturing facility to be located in Cambois, near Blyth, Northumberland by 2024. The move is set to create 170 high-quality local jobs on completion and safeguarding 270 jobs at JDR’s existing facilities.

With the partnership now set to be even stronger with a close geographical proximity of only a few miles, JDR Cables and ORE Catapult have an even greater opportunity to cement the UK’s leading reputation in subsea cable manufacturing with the potential future introduction of 132kV cables to the market, as well as significant regional impact through job creation, supply chain growth and investment in skills.


Young added:

The 66kV work we’ve done with ORE Catapult has been essential in bringing us our new facility to make long length 66kV cables. We now need to push those voltages up in the array cable sector, using the new facility to do that – we can see further collaboration with local partners in the Blyth area, including ORE Catapult, to help us make sure that’s a success. I can see the next step of moving from 66kV to 132kV cables. We will need to look at exactly what test equipment is needed, exactly how we are going to get these products verified, validated and proven to customers, and I think ORE Catapult will have a key part to play in that.


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