Our environmental impact

How subsea cables can help us meet climate targets

Renewable power such as solar or wind is typically generated a long distance away from the households and industries that ultimately use energy. This means there is a requirement for cable connections to transfer electricity from the source of renewable generation to the point of consumption.

XLCC produces HVDC cables that run deep under the sea in most cases, enabling the transfer of renewable power from generation sites to end users. In this way, subsea cable technology has a significant impact in reducing the environmental consequences of electricity generation consumption around the globe.

Additionally, at XLCC we work to reduce the impact of our own activities, from factory operations to how we bury cable under the seabed. XLCC are signatories of the UK Steel Charter, supporting sourcing steel locally to cut transport emissions and promote decarbonisation of the steel sector.

Whilst all forms of energy production, including renewables, have some carbon emissions associated with their build or operation, the CO2 released from burying subsea cable is a tiny fraction of the emissions saved through the use of these cables to provide renewable energy.

For example, the aqueous CO2 emissions associated with burying cable are approximately 0.0046 kg/MWh. In comparison, direct air emissions for an efficient gas turbine are 360 kg/MWh – approximately 80,000 times the emissions associated with cable burial. 

XLCC HVDC subsea cable manufacturing

Ecology

Potential environmental impacts assessed for subsea cable projects are largely associated with the installation phase. Once the cable is installed, any ongoing impacts are minor, for example in the rare case of a cable repair. 

The level of impact during installation will depend on the sensitivity of the marine environment through which the cable passes. Major impacts are avoided through careful project planning and preparation, including robust marine surveying and routing the cable around constraints such as sensitive marine habitats. 

Where potential impacts are identified, these are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable through the application of appropriate mitigation measures, in consultation with statutory authorities and project stakeholders. 

XLCC is committed to working with its clients to deliver environmental impact assessments which meet the requirements of all local regulations, and to actively engage with relevant stakeholders in all jurisdictions.

R&D

Through our Research and Development team, XLCC is developing methods to be able to lay cable in deeper water than is currently possible. This will provide access to more locations globally and will enable us to connect renewable power sources to more remote geographies and locations that are currently without sufficient volumes of local renewable power.

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Reducing our emissions

At XLCC we are committed to reducing carbon emissions at every stage of its supply chain. From our factories to the ships we use to lay the cables in deep waters, we will always aim to minimise the impact we have on the environment.

Our hybrid cable laying vessel will allow a much cleaner operation than a traditional diesel-powered ship. The vessel will have the capability to be powered by renewable electricity, and when in port, loading cable, on-board batteries will be charged to capacity, reducing the requirement for diesel engines. Additionally, using battery power to enter and leave the port will ensure minimal disturbance to marine life and to the local community. The vessel will be prepared for alternative future fuels (such as Methanol) with zero to low emissions when the energy sources are available. There will also be a future upgrade path to hydrogen available.

XLCC factories will also be powered by renewable energy. Each factory will feature solar panels on its roof to help supplement the local renewable supply. And, where possible, all our machinery and vehicles will be electric to minimise usage of carbon releasing fuels.

Additionally, XLCC will seek to use local supply chains where possible to further minimise environmental impact. In April 2022, XLCC signed the UK Steel Charter supporting sourcing steel locally to cut transport emissions and promote decarbonisation of the steel sector.

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