The ampacity of high-voltage power cables depends, among others, on their core cross-sectional area as well as thermal resistivity of the thermal backfill surrounding the cables. The cross-sectional area of the power cables’ core is selected according to the expected power to be transferred via the cable system. Usually, the higher the power transfer required, the higher the cross-sectional area of the core. However, the cost of high-voltage power cables is relatively high and strictly depends on the dimensions of the core. Therefore, from the economic point of view, it is interesting to focus on the improvement of the thermal condition around the cables, by changing the dimension of the thermal backfill, instead of increasing the power cables’ core cross-sectional area. In practice, it is important to find the optimal dimensions of both cable core and thermal backfill to achieve the economically attractive solution of the power cable transfer system. This paper presents a mathematical approach to the power-cable system design, which enables selecting the cost-optimal cross-section of a power cable core depending on the dimensions of the thermal backfill. The proposal herein allows us to indicate the condition in which it is advantageous to increase the core cross-sectional area or to expand the dimension of the backfill. In this approach, the optimal backfill geometry can also be evaluated. The investment costs of the 110 kV power cable system with the core cross-sectional areas consecutively equal to 630, 800 and 1000 mm2
have been compared.
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