The world’s largest offshore wind farm started exporting power to the UK grid this weekend, marking the latest major milestone for the UK’s offshore wind industry.
Developers SSE, Equinor, and Vårgrønn announced today that the first turbine from the first phase of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm began exporting power at 8:37pm on Saturday evening.
The first power was generated by one of the project’s giant GE Vernova Haliade-X 13MW turbines. It was then transmitted 130 kilometres to the shore along a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system, marking the first-time HVDC technology has been used on a UK wind farm.
The developers said every rotation of the Haliade-X turbine’s 107 metre blades generates enough power to run an average home for two days.
The first power from the 1.2GW Dogger Bank A wind farm is set to be followed in the coming years by the development of two further wind farms in the Dogger Bank zone, which should ultimately deliver 3.6GW of clean power capacity – enough to power six million homes and deliver yearly CO2 savings equivalent to removing 1.5 million cars from the road.
The announcement was welcomed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said the flagship project provided evidence of how “offshore wind is critical to generating renewable, efficient energy that can power British homes from British seas”.
“I’m proud that this country is already a world leader in reaching net zero by 2050, and by doubling down on the new green industries of the future, we’ll get there in a way that’s both pragmatic and ambitious,” he said. “That’s why it’s fantastic to see the world’s largest wind farm, Dogger Bank, generating power for the first time today from UK waters, which will not only bolster our energy security, but create jobs, lower electricity bills and keep us on track for net zero.”
Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, said the project would deliver a major boost to UK energy security.
“There’s been lots of talk about the need to build homegrown energy supplies, but we are taking action on a massive scale,” he said. “Dogger Bank will provide a significant boost to UK energy security, affordability and leadership in tackling climate change. This is exactly how we should be responding to the energy crisis.
“But it is also a landmark moment for the global offshore wind industry, with Dogger Bank demonstrating just what can be achieved when policymakers, investors, industry, and communities work together to achieve something truly remarkable.”
He added that the project provided further evidence of how developers are capable of delivering large scale offshore wind projects at pace and scale, as he called for an acceleration in the next wave of projects following the failure of the government’s most recent clean power auction.
“The innovations this pioneering project has developed will also mean future developments can be built faster and more efficiently, accelerating the clean energy transition,” he said. “Now, of course, the challenge is to accelerate the next wave of these projects and we look forward to working with governments to bring these forward as soon as possible.”
The Dogger Bank A project secured a 15-year contract through the 2018 Contract for Difference (CfD) auction with a strike price of £39.65/MWh – in 2012 prices and CPI-indexed – for delivery in 2023/24.
But the most recent clean power auction this summer failed to attract any bids from offshore wind developers, after Ministers refused to increase the reserve price for the auction despite warnings from developers that inflationary pressures meant they were unable to deliver projects below the price requested by the government.
Meanwhile, developer Vattenfall announced earlier this year that it is pausing one of its offshore wind projects that previously secured a CfD, arguing that rising material costs meant it could no longer be confident of a return on the project.
Industry insiders have warned the offshore wind development pipeline could stall completely unless the government acknowledges the inflationary pressures faced by the industry and moves urgently to increase the reserve price in future auctions. Supporters of the industry maintain that even if prices are increased to reflect higher costs, offshore wind projects can still comfortably undercut alternative forms of large scale generation, including gas power plants and nuclear projects.
Anders Opedal, CEO of Equinor, said the Dogger Bank project “demonstrates the best of what the offshore wind industry can offer, with innovative technologies, long-term jobs and economic growth and security of electricity supply at a major scale”.
“A renewable mega-project like Dogger Bank constitutes an industrial wind hub in the heart of the North Sea, playing a major role in the UK’s ambitions for offshore wind and supporting its net zero ambitions,” he added. “First power from Dogger Bank, is a testament to the collaboration between the authorities, the project partners, suppliers and our host communities to realise this project.”
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