Photo: DONG Energy A/S

Students help DONG Energy with sea cables

Tuesday 07 Jan 14


Thomas Jacob Riis Stidsen
Associate Professor
DTU Management
+45 45 25 44 49

DONG Energy's thesis award

The thesis ‘Optimization of the Cable Collection Grid in Offshore Wind Farms’ received top marks. Michael Lindahl and Niels-Christian Fink Bagger also received DONG Energy’s thesis award of DKK 25,000.
Laying cables between DONG Energy numerous offshore wind turbines is a complex undertaking. Two PhD students developed an entirely new solution.

By Lasse Lundberg Andreasen

As part of their thesis project, two students have developed a computer-based tool that saves DONG Energy hours of manual calculations. The collaboration with DONG Energy came into being as a result of a special course at DTU Management.

While on the course, Michael Lindahl and Niels-Christian Bagger realized that their mathematical skills could help solve a specific problem for DONG Energy. This marked the beginning of a successful PhD collaboration project, exemplifying how DTU and the corporate sector can truly benefit from one another.

Currently, the energy company is heavily committed to harvesting wind energy from giant offshore wind farms. Construction projects of this nature require the laying of kilometres of cables between the wind turbines—cables which can be connected in a myriad of ways.

Previously, rules of thumb and minimizing power loss were the key factors in deciding where DONG Energy should place the lengthy cables. However, Michael Lindahl and Niels-Christian Fink Bagger devised a radically different way of analysing the problem.

Using mathematical formulae, they have incorporated the calculations into a computer program which drastically reduces the need for manual calculations. At the same time, they have focused on user-friendliness for DONG Energy staff, who do not necessarily possess the same mathematical skill set.

Works in a spreadsheet

“At Dong, staff make extensive use of Excel. Our tool will be used by DONG Energy’s engineers, which is why we have devised a program that works with Excel. In other words, when they open the program they will see a familiar user interface,” explains Michael Lindahl.

Know your limitations

DONG Energy soon discovered the potential of the tool and were keen to extend the project scope.

“They asked us whether the tool could also import map and seabed data, but it’s important to stay focused on the defined project goal. This is where our supervisor—Associate Professor Thomas Stidsen from DTU Management—has been a great help. Similarly, acting project supervisor Søren Frost Ahrenfeldt from DONG Energy has shown great understanding vis-à-vis the time limitation of the project,” concludes Niels-Christian Fink Bagger. 

Michael Lindahl, photo: Lasse Lundberg Andreasen 

Michael Lindahl 

 Niels-Christian Fink Bagger  

Fink Bagger

Søren Frost Ahrenfeldt, DONG Energy A/S 

Søren Frost Ahrenfeldt,
DONG Energy A/S