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This site was paid for and produced by Equinor in partnership with the commercial department of the Financial Times.

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GE Renewable Energy will supply the turbines to Dogger Bank Wind Farm. Image source: General Electric

Full Blown: Building the world's largest offshore wind farm in the UK

Construction has begun on the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the east coast of England in the North Sea. When fully operational in 2026, Dogger Bank Wind Farm will produce enough renewable electricity to supply five per cent of UK’s demand and power around five million homes each year.

If you have heard of Dogger Bank, a large sandbank around 130km off the North East coast of England, it is likely to be as part of the shipping forecast on Radio 4.

But soon, it will be home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm, capable of producing 3.6GW of electricity, enough to power 5 million homes or about 5 per cent of total UK demand.

Graphic showing that the wind farm will be capable of powering 5 million homes

“Dogger Bank breaks the bounds of what size an offshore wind farm can be,” says Stephen Bull, Senior Vice-President for Renewables at Equinor, which will operate the £9bn wind farm over its lifetime of up to 35 years.

The project, a 50:50 joint venture between Equinor and SSE Renewables, is being built in three equal phases, with Italy’s Eni taking a 20% stake in the first two phases.

When the first 13MW turbines start to turn in 2023, a single sweep of their 220- metre rotors will produce enough electricity to power the average UK home for two days. The project will be the first to use these turbines from GE, the most powerful turbines currently in operation, a sign of just how far offshore wind has come over the past decade, confounding the expectations of even its most ardent proponents.

13MW turbines

A single sweep of their 220-metre rotors will produce enough electricity to power the average UK home for two days

Illustration of a turbine powering a house for two days
Quotation mark

Five to six years ago, the cost of offshore wind was £150/MWh. Now it is well below the wholesale price

Megan Smith, head of offshore wind advisory

"Five to six years ago, the cost of offshore wind was £150/MWh. Now it is well below the wholesale price", says Megan Smith, Head of Offshore Wind Advisory at the Carbon Trust, which runs the Offshore Wind Accelerator, an initiative to cut costs in the sector. "One of the main drivers in cost reduction is the increase in the size of the turbines."

Dogger Bank won contracts at record-low prices in 2019, meaning when it generates electricity from 2023, it will be essentially subsidy-free.

Because of its long distance from shore, the project will be the first UK offshore wind farm to use High Voltage DC (HVDC) cables to transport the power back inland. Too much power would be lost if AC cables were used.

Dogger BankDogger Bank

The 1,700km2 project, covering an area larger than Greater London, is set to make a significant contribution to the UK economy – the project’s installation base for phases A and B will be at Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool, where 120 jobs will be created and more than 200 people will eventually operate the wind farm.

Size of Dogger Bank compared to area of Greater LondonSize of Dogger Bank compared to area of Greater London

An operations and maintenance base will be built at the Port of Tyne, one of only two deep water ports in the North East of England.

Dogger Bank fits the Port of Tyne’s strategy to develop a 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub, focused on technology such as clean energy, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, smart sensors, block-chain and big data analytics. “We want to create a clean energy cluster for the region,” says the Port of Tyne Authority’s CEO Matt Beeton.

The port is also building a 200-acre clean energy park dedicated to renewable energy companies. “There is a real swell of excitement. It’s clear that this will bring jobs to an area of high unemployment,” he adds. “Having the biggest wind farm in the world off the coast here creates a real opportunity to develop the whole economy.”

Jobs created at Dogger Bank
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Having the biggest wind farm in the world off the coast here creates a real opportunity to develop the whole economy

Matt Beeton, Port of Tyne Authority's CEO

Ducting

Cable ducting on the onshore construction site for Dogger Bank A and B. Image Source: Dogger Bank Wind Farm by SSE Renewables and Equinor

When Equinor got involved in Dogger Bank a decade ago, the UK’s entire offshore wind capacity was 1.3GW, around the same as one phase of this project. “It really puts into context how ground-breaking it was at the time. We were betting on technology that didn’t exist yet,” Equinor’s Bull said. “Our initial business case was for 2,000 turbines but we will end up with just 15% of that number. The speed of development has been phenomenal.


“This project is a game changer in our exposure to offshore wind and a big step towards our ambition to increase our renewables capacity to 30 times what it is today, by 2035, and become a global offshore wind major,” Bull adds.

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We have an ambition to increase our renewables capacity to 30 times what it is today by 2035

Stephen Bull, Senior Vice-President for Renewables, Equinor

That ambition will be achieved by building up regional clusters, like in the North Sea. The region is the epicentre of offshore wind because it is shallow enough to allow turbines to be fixed to the seabed. But many other countries with plentiful wind resources, such as France, South Korea and Japan, have much deeper coastlines, making them unsuitable for bottom-fixed turbines. Floating turbines will enable these areas to generate renewable power and meet their emissions targets.





Floating wind also gives companies such as Equinor, which was the first to build a floating turbine platform with its Hywind concept, the opportunity to leverage their existing expertise in developing a new sector. “Floating turbines allow us to build on our existing offshore oil and gas skills – everything below the surface is like an oil and gas platform mooring, and everything above the surface is renewable,” says Bull. “It’s a perfect marriage between the two technologies.”

Offshore wind is the energy of the future and the North Sea will continue to be the sector’s spiritual home for years to come. But as floating wind technology catches up with bottom-fixed turbines, the industry will move into deeper waters and further offshore.

Quotation mark

It's the perfect marriage between the two technologies. Floating turbines allow us to build on our existing offshore oil and gas skills

Stephen Bull, Senior Vice-President for Renewables, Equinor

Wind turbine diagram
3D illustration of wind turbines

3D visualization of a floating turbine. Source: Equinor ASA

This content focuses on Equinor's role in the UK energy transition, please visit their pages to learn more about their wider UK and global operations.

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