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Development of massive UK wind farm provides the blueprint for America’s offshore wind opportunity

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Kent Knutson's picture
Energy Market Specialist, Hitachi Energy USA Inc.

Kent Knutson is a market specialist focusing on energy industry intelligence for Hitachi Energy.  He has more than 30 years of experience designing and developing intelligence products for some...

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  • Nov 18, 2020

This is the second article in a three-part series covering America’s offshore wind opportunity

Pre-construction on what will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world, Dogger Bank, is underway with several key supply chain contracts recently granted. The final investment decision (FID) is expected by the end of the year, with the first power generation expected in 2023. The United Kingdom (UK) project is moving along nicely, and as it evolves, the massive project provides a blueprint for what could happen along the Atlantic coast of the United States within a few years. When the three phases are complete in 2026, Dogger Bank, located in the southern North Sea, will have 3.6 GW of operating capacity and will provide roughly 5% of all UK power demand. 

In recent months the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, a joint venture of Equinor (50%) and SSE Renewables (50%), has been in the news. SSE Renewables leads the construction effort, while Norway's Equinor is positioned to lead the project's long-term operations and management. SSE Renewables has a portfolio of roughly 4 GW of both onshore and offshore wind and several hydro projects across the UK and Ireland. The company is heavily involved in all aspects of renewables development, including construction and operations. 

The Dogger Bank project has been in development for more than a decade. In 2008, the Crown Estate, holder of the offshore lease areas in the Dogger Bank Zone, which includes about 8,660 km2, opened its third license round. The Dogger Bank area (aka Doggerland) is in the persistently windy North Sea. Doggerland was an Island and part of the land bridge between England and mainland Europe until around 5,000 BC. The Dogger Bank, though underwater, is an uplifted area, a remnant of an isostatic upward adjustment when the most recent ice age receded. 

Dogger Bank Wind Farm 

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Source: Dogger Bank Wind Farm website, courtesy of SSE Renewables and Equinor

The Dogger Bank development effort includes:

  • Dogger Bank A – Phase 1 is located 131 km from shore at its closest point and comprises about 515 km2 – when complete, the project will comprise about 1.2 GW of installed generating capacity. The turbine installation and commercial operation are expected by 2023.  
  • Dogger Bank B – This is the largest of the projects to be built in an area of approximately 599 km2 with the closest point also around 131 km from the English coast – when complete, the project will add 1.2 GW. The project is expected online by 2025.   
  • Dogger Bank C – is located about 196 km from shore and comprises an area of about 560 km2. Unlike Dogger A and B, the third phase will connect to the existing Lackenby Substation at Teesside.  The completion of the project is expected by 2026.

Dogger Bank A and B will connect to the existing Creyke Beck substation near Cottingham in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The subsea cables will make landfall north of the village of Ulrome with about 30 km of underground cable taking power to converter stations near Cottingham before moving through the Creyke Beck substation and onto National Grid’s power system.

When all phases are complete in 2026, the 3.6 GW wind farm will exceed that of the current largest wind farm also in the southern North Sea, Hornsea 1, which was commissioned earlier this year by joint owners, Ørsted and Global Infrastructure Partners.

All three projects were successful in the UK Governments' 2019 Contract for Difference (CfD) auction. According to an Equinor September 2019 news release, investment in the three projects from 2020 through full operation in 2026 is estimated at £9 billion. The projects' clearing prices were GBP 39.650 per MWh for Dogger Bank A and GBP 41.611 per MWh for Dogger Bank B and C – all in 2012 real prices.

Dogger Bank busy lining up contracts

In September, General Electric (GE) confirmed they were awarded the contract to supply 2.4 GW in offshore wind turbines to supply the first two phases of construction of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm. The contract is for 190 of GE’s Haliade-X turbines (13 MW each), the world’s largest commercial turbines to be deployed to date. According to GE, the Haliade-X provides enough power with a one-half turn to power an average British household for more than a day.

In October 2019, Hitachi ABB Power Grid’s (HAPG) won the largest contract ever for the company to connect the Dogger Bank project to the UK mainland. It marked the first-ever high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) technology in the UK’s offshore wind market. In 2016, ABB and Aibel announced their partnership with the design, engineering, and optimization of the interconnect infrastructure. HAPG plans to supply HVDC Light® converter systems that employ compact design with the lowest energy losses in the power industry. Aibel will design and construct the offshore platforms for the converter stations.

In August 2020, DEME Offshore announced they had been awarded the EPCI contract to supply the inter-array cables at Dogger A and B. Production is expected to start in 2021. The cable will be installed using their state-of-the-art DP3 installation vessel ‘Living Stone.’ The ship was selected based on the huge cable capacity (10,000 tons), which deploys a dual-lane system, one for laying the cable and one for readying the next cable for installation. The plan calls for roughly 650 km of cable at Dogger A and B. Joint-owner SSE Renewables will be using the world’s largest jack-up installation vessel, ‘The Voltaire’ made by Jan de Nuul. The new state of the art vessel has a lifting capacity of 3,000 tons.

Jones Brothers Civil Engineering, one of the UK’s leading engineering contractors, has been awarded the contract to install the onshore cable infrastructure for Dogger Bank A and B sites.  

Hornsea Wind Farm will get larger too

The world's current largest offshore wind farm will get considerably larger before all three phases of Dogger Bank (3.6 GW) are up and running in 2026. In January 2020, Orsted’s Hornsea I (1.2 GW) began generating electricity. Hornsea II (1.4 GW) is currently under construction with a completion date in 2022. Hornsea III (2.4 GW) is in development with an expected construction start of 2022 and energize date in 2025. If that were not enough pipeline, Hornsea IV is expected to start construction in 2023 with a completion date in 2027. Pending the deployment of new technology, the project is not currently listing an installed wind farm capacity. Hitachi ABB Power Grids was awarded the contract to deliver 330 km of 220-kV high voltage AC cables that connected Hornsea 1 to the UK mainland grid.

Development of the US offshore industry will benefit immensely from the lessons learned in the UK where offshore projects like Hornsea I have been built, and large development projects like Dogger Bank are underway.  The new technology available today, including the massive, upwards of 14 MW single turbines, and more durable and long-lasting infrastructure like undersea cable and sophisticated digitally run converter technology and interconnection equipment, make the future bright for offshore projects. Having access to the ‘best of the best’ technology makes the soon to be burgeoning American offshore wind industry a surefire success story that will result in great jobs and plenty of investment opportunity.

Charley Rattan's picture
Charley Rattan on Nov 20, 2020

Dogger is somewhat unusual in that it sits in remarkably shallow waters - meaning fixed foundations can be used, and with a surprisingly limited steel/ foundation cost  requirement. I believe more integrated sites such as those developed bt the Crosswind consortium offer a more realistic template for US waters.

Kent Knutson's picture
Kent Knutson on Nov 19, 2020

Hi Charley, thanks for your post . . . I agree there are some big differences in water depth and probably the seabottom in Dogger Bank vs. the east coast lease areas.  For those not familiar with the Crosswind Consortium . . . here's a news release from Shell in late July regarding the group's winning a tender for Hollandse Kust (noord) wind farm.  thx again, Kent 

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Nov 24, 2020

Both projects are landmark steps toward a renewables energy future. 

Satisfying all of the stakeholders was not a simple task to be sure.  Though British and European fisherman may bristle at the suggestion, they seem to have been more easily made amenable to these projects than their US counterparts seem to be in the northeast US. Can Charley and/or Kent perhaps shed some light on how that was done?

Kent Knutson's picture
Thank Kent for the Post!
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