An interview with… Pete Syrda
Role – Principal Engineer
Time in the energy industry – 8 years
Time with Xodus – 9 years
What is your technical expertise?
I’m a principal subsea engineer specialising in submarine power cables including interconnectors and offshore wind export and arrays. My day-to-day role is focussed on the delivery of technical engineering scopes associated with submarine power cable design and installation, specifically around route identification, burial and protection, cable integrity and analysis for dynamic applications.
Why did you become a specialist?
I joined the Xodus subsea team in 2013 as a graduate with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with Renewable Energy. This gave me the opportunity to work alongside industry experts on a wide variety of exciting and challenging engineering scopes from early-stage field development through to detailed design and analysis of subsea infrastructure including pipelines and risers.
The energy industry has changed a lot since I first joined, in particular, the renewables sector has seen a significant level of growth. It was always my intention to focus on offshore renewables at some point in my career and my experience in the engineering of pipelines and risers naturally led me to focus on other linear infrastructure where there are many analogous technical challenges, i.e., subsea interconnectors and cables.
My role in Xodus is now focuses on interconnectors and cables. I’m a strong believer that to enable rapid and successful global growth in offshore renewables we need to draw on the vast experience of other offshore energy sectors such as oil & gas, taking lessons learnt wherever possible.
What are the biggest risks that Offshore Wind Developers face right now in your area of expertise?
I see route selection as a key risk area in the subsea cables sector. Export cable routeing is often performed at an early stage of development and once a preferred route has been selected there will invariably be little change in the selected route over the course of the project, with only minor modifications performed within a corridor after detailed geophysical and geotechnical surveys are conducted.
Export cable route lengths are often significant and regularly reach tens and sometimes even hundreds of kilometres, with multiple cables often used in parallel. The inherent risk here is that decisions made at an early stage of a project will influence both the environmental and technical challenges encountered during the development phase and onward through to construction and operation of an asset. It is therefore imperative that routing and all potential constraints and options are thoroughly consideredP as early as possible in order to de-risk not only the marine route but also the landfalls through to the grid connection point onshore, as these too are dependent on a feasible marine route. If this is not done well then the risks can include multiple cycles of rework, schedule delays and increased costs down the line.
What is the one piece of advice you would give a developer if they are awarded a licence in ScotWind?
I would advise developers to embrace the innovations and technologies that we have available in the industry today as they can enable us to engineer future offshore developments better and more efficiently than we have in the past. For example, we now have the capability and technology to use artificial intelligence to help compare, analyse and select preferred marine and onshore cable routes, so whereas before we may have looked at a handful of options for an offshore wind export route, we can now very quickly look at MILLIONS of options for a single development, gaining a much higher confidence that we are taking forward the best option and we are doing everything possible to de-risk the project from an early phase. This is one of a number of innovations in which many years of time, effort and industry experience have been invested and I believe now is the perfect time for the energy industry to reap the rewards.