Subsea Power Grids – A Market Waiting to Boom as Offshore Exploration Gathers Steam

The depleting onshore oil and gas reserves are driving more and more exploration companies to offshore locations. Setting up massive offshore rigs is a herculean exercise, but would prove pointless if there wasn’t enough energy to run these operations. This is where subsea power grids come into play. There have been limitations as to how much power could be transmitted via undersea cables and power transmission equipment. But companies are moving closer to offering a real, commercially-viable solution to this problem.

One of the most notable projects in this area is being undertaken by Siemens as it nears a test program for a subsea power distribution hub, which will be connected with a range of power transmission components. The soaring demand for subsea power transmission has created a sizeable subsea power grids market, which, analysts say, is expected display robust growth.

Currently, there are several limitations to subsea power transmission, the most critical drawback being limited the area across which power can be distributed underwater. Maintenance and repair of subsea components, notably transformers, is also assuming importance, and companies are developing prototypes that can be tested underwater to mitigate the impact of power-failure-related downtime at offshore rigs. 

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However, there are also some companies that are getting to the root of the problem by developing innovative subsea power generation systems that can help curb costs associated with component repair and replacements in the event of a power failure. A case in point is Scotland-based East Coast Oil and Gas Engineering (ECOG) that has a grant from the Scottish government for its deep sea power generation system.

Currently, the many offshore oil and gas exploration activities reported in Latin America and Africa are expected to create appreciable demand for offshore power grids in these regions.


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