Photo: Aibel

Dogger Bank Wind Farm to feature unmanned HVDC offshore substations

Dogger Bank Wind Farm, the world’s largest offshore wind project, will use what the developers say is ”a revolutionary platform design, unveiling the world’s first unmanned High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) offshore substation.”

When complete in 2026, the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank wind farm will become the biggest in the world, able to produce enough electricity to power around five per cent of the UK’s electricity demand. The wind farm is located over 130 kilometres out to sea.

A joint venture between SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Eni, is leading on the construction and delivery of the wind farm. Equinor will operate Dogger Bank on completion for its lifetime of up to 35 years.

First Offshore Wind Project to Use HVDC Tech in UK

Dogger Bank will be the first offshore wind project in the UK to use HVDC technology to transmit the electricity produced back to shore.

Upon the first installation in Dogger Bank A during 2023, the project’s HVDC facility will also become the largest-ever at 1.2 GW, a scale-up from the previous industry benchmark of 0.8 GW, the developers said.

”We’ve committed to build this project with record low CfD strike prices and the associated benefits this provides to UK electricity consumers,” said Steve Wilson, Project Director of Dogger Bank Wind Farm.

”We will do this by using the latest technologies to ensure we build and operate the wind farm efficiently, while achieving the highest standards in safety. In order to build this complex infrastructure project competitively, whilst introducing a new technical solution here in the UK, the Dogger Bank project team needed to drive a huge step change in design.”

70 Per Cent Weight Reduction

Working closely with platform manufacturer Aibel, the Dogger Bank team were challenged to design the first unmanned offshore HVDC substation in the world.

Dogger Bank HVDC Substation
Source: Aibel

Removing the need for personnel to stay on the platform meant it was then possible to eliminate elements such as the living quarters, helideck and sewage systems, resulting in a 70 per cent reduction in weight (per megawatt) of the topside compared to previous platforms installed, and cost savings of hundreds of millions of pounds, the developers said.

”Traditional methods have been effective at transmitting electricity from wind farms that are closer to shore, but with Dogger Bank being so far from shore, we chose to use HVDC as it is much more efficient to transfer electricity over long distances,” Jon Kippenes, Offshore Platform Manager for Dogger Bank, said.

”As the first project to do this in the UK we were faced with potentially high costs and uncertainty, but by taking learnings from unmanned installation in Oil and Gas, and working closely with our supplier we have designed an innovative and safe platform with huge reductions in weight. This of course lowers the cost for this project, but also sets a new standard for offshore HVDC platforms. The Dogger Bank transmission concept was turned from being the project’s Achilles heel into a competitive edge.”

It is expected that re-use of design and execution method may give significant benefits to future HVDC projects of similar transmission capacity.

Dogger Bank A and B is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40 per cent), Equinor (40 per cent) and Eni (20 per cent). Dogger Bank C is a 50:50 joint venture between SSE Renewables and Equinor.