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Taihan Cable & Solution has received an approval from KEM, a Dutch testing center, for its 525-kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission cable that it said represents the first such one to be certified for a South Korean company.

In a press release, Taihan CEO Song Jong-min announced that the company’s 525kV VSC (Voltage Source Converter) HVDC land cable system was granted certification from KEM. This took place about eight months after the company’s successful development of the first 500kV LCC (Line Commutated Converter) system.

The company said that by increasing the cross-sectional area of the 3,000 sq mm conductor, it was able to raise the allowable conductor temperature to over 90° (194° F). That enables the cable to carry a greater amount of current, a big plus for large-scale power transmission.

The release said that the 525-kV cable is currently the highest voltage among commercialized cables, and that only a few companies in the world have achieved this level of technology. “We have secured unrivaled technological competitiveness in 525kV VSC HVDC cables,” an official from Taihan said. “As investment in power infrastructure expands worldwide, especially in developed markets such as the United States and Europe, we will be able to secure business opportunities in various HVDC projects.”

Once the company completes its submarine cable plant now under construction in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam-do, it will accelerate the development and certification of submarine HVDC cable systems. “As the HVDC market continues to expand in the medium to long term, we are committed to ensuring our technological and business competitiveness.”

Mexico’s Grupo Simec, which acquired Republic Steel in 2005, announced that it plans to indefinitely idle its operations in Canton, Ohio, and Lackawanna, New York, and move that production to a newer plant in Mexico.

Per multiple reports, Grupo Simec said that it plans to idle steelmaking operations at the two mills. Production will shift to the company’s modern plant in Tlaxcala, Mexico. The changes will result in some 500 employees being “furloughed indefinitely.” That includes 322 positions in Canton and 178 in Lackawanna.

In a statement, James Vigil, a Republic Steel board member and executive advisor, said that Grupo Simec had considered all potential options before making its ultimate decision. “We’re facing an extremely challenging SBQ (special bar quality steel) market in the U.S., with competitive market pricing and decreased demand. At the same time, we’ve had to deal with increasing input costs on all raw materials, consumables, and labor, all as a result of the inflationary environment in the U.S. over the past year.”

A key problem was complying with environmental requirements, Vigil explained. The company took many steps over the past several years to remain compliant with all environmental regulations, particularly the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for leaded steel production. Republic Steel spent some $10 million in the Canton plant—which is 125 years old— but it was unlikely that either of the plants would meet future, tougher requirements. Consolidating production to Grupo Simec’s modern plant in Tlaxcala enables more competitive pricing, increased environmental responsibility, and enhanced product quality.

“As the only producers of leaded steel in North America, we also owe it to our customers, and their customers, to be a reliable supplier of such products,” said Vigil. “Ultimately, we’re responsible to our shareholders and our customers. We’re simply doing what needs to be done to meet our responsibilities.”

Vigil said there had been hopes that inflationary pressures would ease, and that Republic Steel would see a bump in business following the passages of the Infrastructure Bill in 2021 and increased demand from the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022. Neither came through.

Republic Steel was acquired in 2005 by Industrias CH, S.A de C.V. (ICH), a steel producer and processor based in Mexico City. Republic Steel is a subsidiary of Grupo Simec, Guadalajara, Mexico, of which ICH is the majority owner. Simec is one of the largest producers

TenneT, the largest electric grid operator in the Netherlands and Germany, announced that it has awarded contracts approximately €1.5 billion to multiple companies building high-tension wires.

A press release said that TenneT has signed a multi-year contract (Corporate Framework Agreement) with the following eight contract partners following a tendering procedure: Brugg Kabel of Switzerland, LS Cable & System and Taihan of South Korea, NKT GmbH & Co KG and Suedkabel GmbH of Germany, Prysmian and TKF of the Netherlands, and TBEA Shandong Luneng Taishan Cable Co., Ltd. of China.

These partners will supply and install the cables for the 110, 150, 220 and 380 kV onshore high-voltage AC connections in Germany and the Netherlands on behalf of TenneT. “In the coming years, we will construct some 900 km of high-voltage in Germany and TenneT will realize some 4,000 km of high-voltage in the Netherlands.”

TenneT intends to spend as much as 100 billion euros in the coming decade to build out electric grids onshore and offshore as electricity from renewable sources increasingly replaces fossil fuels. It also explained how the company is evolving. “TenneT realises that expanding the electricity grid involves a lot of work. That is one of the reasons for working intensively with these specialised companies. By focusing on long-term partnerships that create a stable collaboration, parties can focus more on innovation and adjust the production process and machinery. Specifically, we will see this reflected in improved materials and design optimisation in the coming years. And, more importantly, we see more opportunities to develop longer cables in one piece (depending on voltage level) up to 5,000 meters.

“Where we currently still work with cables of around 1,500 metres, within two years we will already be laying cables with a length of 3 to 3.5 kilometres. Lengths that can soon also be realised with drilling. And that really is a step forward in terms of burdening the environment during construction, but also in terms of failures, speed and so on.”

The last acquisition by Prysmian, the world’s largest cable manufacturer, was its largest ever: a $3 billion deal for U.S.-based General Cable that was completed in 2018. Per a report in Reuters, the company may make another deal in the year or two.

The Reuters story said that during an analyst call, Chief Executive Valerio Battista said that “until recently M&A ‘was a suicide’ due to sky-high valuations.” That situation is changing, and Prysmian has a healthy balance sheet that allows it to pursue opportunities. “Frankly speaking, I believe that in the next 12-24 months ... some of our competitors may come to the door,” he said.

No potential acquisitions were cited in the article, which noted that Prysmian expects a cash flow of between €550-650 million this year, topping prior guidance.

 CommScope® reports that it plans to invest $60.3 million over the next four years to expand its manufacturing facilities based in North Carolina to bolster its ability to meet U.S. supply demands driven by federal initiatives.

 A press release said that CommScope currently has the capacity to manufacture drop cable at a rate of approximately two billion feet per year at its U.S. facilities, a level of production that will allow states and their partners to connect every underserved American as a part of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The expansion in Catawba County is expected to create at least 250 new jobs.

The expansion will further allow CommScope to manufacture the necessary cable for service providers to deploy broadband across the U.S. Capacity increase will align around loose tube production and additional fiber cable counts and styles needed for rural deployment, including CommScope’s HeliARC fiber optic cable that is specifically designed for rural fiber network architecture.

“Broadband for everyone is no longer a luxury, but rather a critical necessity to participate in today’s society and economic market,” said CommScope President and CEO Chuck Treadway. “We have long been committed to supplying our partners with the solutions necessary to bring broadband to everyone. Furthering our long-standing relationship with the State of North Carolina is a great next step to bring ‘Internet For All’, and we are thrilled to work with the State on this endeavor.

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