Scaling new global heights offshore16 May 2021
The shipping forecast made Dogger Bank a household name, but its renown as a weather region is about to be eclipsed as it becomes home to the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.
Britain already leads the world in offshore wind generation, and capacity is set to quadruple in line with the government target of 40GW by 2030, powering an extra 14 million homes.
SSE Renewables has committed to providing almost a quarter of that figure, which will include the supersized project being built in the North Sea with its joint venture partners Equinor and Eni.
“SSE has been there from the very beginning of offshore wind but there’s been a step change since 2010 when we began planning Dogger Bank,” says Paul Cooley, director of capital projects at SSE Renewables.
“That’s because there’s been a clear, consistent message that there is a long-term plan for a green economy. That gives companies like ours – and those in the supply chain – confidence there’s a route to market because these projects are expensive.”
Located on a sandbank between 130km and 190km off the coast of Yorkshire, Dogger Bank is to be built in three phases at three locations, Dogger Bank A, B and C, and each will contribute 1.2GW.
Construction has already started on the onshore underground cabling to two substations in East Riding of Yorkshire, with work set to begin on enabling works for a third substation in Teesside in the coming months. Offshore construction will begin in 2023 with the nearly 300 turbines being erected in three clusters. Power will run from the wind turbines to three offshore converter platforms, and will then be routed onshore via subsea cables.
“We’re pushing the boundaries technically with this project because it will be the largest HVDC [high voltage direct current] connected offshore wind farm in the world, and the first in UK waters,” says Cooley. “DC transmission is traditionally used for connecting countries, not wind farms, so this is like connecting the country of Dogger Bank to the UK. It’s a maturing technology and because of that the costs are becoming more competitive.”
The project will create at least 2,500 jobs in construction and operation. It’s also the trigger project for plans by wind turbine supplier GE Renewable Energy and LM Wind Power to build a new world-class factory in Teesworks, the UK’s biggest freeport, to manufacture blades for GE’s Haliade-X turbine which will be installed at the wind farm. There will also be an operations centre at the Port of Tyne, with teams working on three state-of-the-art service operations vessels to be built by North Star Shipping in Aberdeen. Custom-built vessels will also be required to install the vast monopiles to the seabed and then to install the offshore wind turbines.
“Because of the scale of Dogger Bank we can really use it to kickstart further UK supply chain investment, as is happening in Teesside,” says Cooley. “The green transition is happening all the way along the supply chain because these projects are surpassing fossil fuels as the primary employer of related manufacturing companies – and it’s reviving coastal areas so the dividends in offshore wind will be paid to local communities too.
“Renewable energy made up almost half the UK’s electricity generation in the first three months of 2020. When completed in 2026, Dogger Bank will contribute another 3.6GW – 5 per cent of electricity demand, supplying some six million homes.
“It’s a massive undertaking but it’s necessary if we are to deliver enough clean energy to hit the UK’s net zero target. Our ambition is to lead the renewable energy industry in the UK and Ireland.”
In 2003 SSE Renewables co-developed its first offshore wind farm at Arklow Bank in Ireland. Today it is the largest British offshore wind developer, delivering projects with its UK partners of more than 6.5GW. It is leading the development and construction of more offshore wind energy than any other company in the world.
Dogger Bank will be preceded by Seagreen. A joint venture with Total located off Angus in the North Sea, it is already under construction and will be Scotland’s largest and deepest offshore wind farm when complete. Its 114 turbines will start turning in early 2022 and will contribute 1.1GW of energy to the grid. There are two further SSE Renewables projects nearby in the Firth of Forth: Berwick Bank and Marr Bank. Both are currently at planning stage and will be capable of delivering up to another 4.1GW of new zero carbon power for the UK.
The next generation of offshore turbines is likely to be moored on floating foundations rather than fixed to the seabed, to be deployed in deeper waters where wind yield is higher. Although the technology has so far been used only in smaller demonstration projects, the UK government’s Build Back Greener plan has set a target to deliver 1GW of floating wind capacity by 2030. SSE is currently initiating a new floating wind strategy to develop the technology and identify sites in UK waters as well as globally.
This article was originally published in The Times and The Sunday Times.
- Find out more about how SSE is building more offshore wind than any other company in the world right now.