The Dogger Bank wind farm zone, located in the North Sea off the coast of East Yorkshire, is potentially the world’s largest offshore wind project. If fully developed, the 8,660km2 area could contain more than 2,000 wind turbine generators and provide an immense 13GW of electricity – enough to supply ten per cent of the UK’s electricity requirements.
Given the size of the development, the zone will be developed in a series of ‘Tranches’, each containing a number of projects with an overall capacity of around 3GW in each Tranche.
The plans for the Dogger Bank zone are being developed by Forewind, a four-company consortium comprising SSE, RWE npower renewables, and Norwegian energy companies Statoil and Statkraft. As well as offshore turbines, substations and underwater cables, the zone will also require considerable onshore infrastructure, including converter stations, and hundreds of kilometres of underground cable to export the electricity to the National Grid.
Originally commissioned by SSE in 2008, prior to the formal establishment of Forewind, Royal HaskoningDHV’s initial role was to assist in gaining rights from The Crown Estate to develop the zone under Round 3 of the UK’s offshore wind licensing arrangements.
In June 2010, Royal HaskoningDHV was awarded the roles of ‘Offshore Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Coordinator’ for Tranche A and ‘Onshore EIA Coordinator’ for the first project application, via a competitive tender. In October 2011, a framework was agreed for Royal HaskoningDHV to provide complete EIA services up to, and including, the final project in Tranche B, covering projects up to 6GW of capacity.
Robert Staniland, Technical Director of Offshore Wind, Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “We are naturally incredibly proud for the team to be working on such a prestigious project”.
“Royal HaskoningDHV has an enviable and proven track record in the offshore wind market, having seen projects through the consenting process, the construction phase and into operational monitoring. Our technical expertise in and experience of both the offshore and onshore aspects of development allows us to forge the kind of strong clientconsultant relationships that are evidenced by this contract with Forewind”.
Complex and wide-ranging, the EIA and pre-application process involves initial site selection for all components of onshore and offshore infrastructure, route-finding for export cables, planning and executing survey programmes, undertaking data analysis and interpretation and extensive stakeholder consultation. The EIA for the first project of the Dogger Bank zone is currently in progress and due to be submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) in December 2013.
The first project will require construction of a new onshore converter station to adapt the DC electricity produced into the AC electricity required for the National Grid. Around 34km of underground cable will be laid from the coast to an existing substation at Creyke Beck, East Yorkshire.
Every aspect of each project will be assessed during the EIA process to ensure the development is given approval to proceed. Rufus Howard, Director of the Renewable Energy Team at Royal HaskoningDHV, explains: “The development of the onshore infrastructure for the Dogger Bank is an exciting challenge for the team. Our consultants are involved in a large range of assessments including: cable route selection; the comparison of alternative sites; traffic and transport; land quality; flood risk; noise; and planning policy.
“There are many challenges to successful siting and construction of the onshore infrastructure. Landowners, tenants and communities need to be consulted and their concerns addressed. Statutory consultees, such as the Environment Agency and Natural England, need to be convinced of environmental mitigations proposed, to correctly determine the acceptability of the project. The technical surveys and assessments required for a project of this size are complex to coordinate, manage and deliver.
“Our dedicated Energy and Industry Team specialises in this type of development. We have excellent project experience from our work on the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Projects in the design, assessment and consenting of large scale linear cable routes and substations. We consider this type of development as our forte and have proved that we can deliver to the expectations of our clients and stakeholders, on time and to budget.”
Robert Staniland comments: “The Dogger Bank zone provides an excellent opportunity for offshore wind farm development. It is relatively shallow, covers a large area and, most importantly, it is windy! The Dogger Bank itself is also of importance for a number of reasons including its archaeological significance, importance for wildlife and in supporting human activity, such as commercial fisheries. The EIA process is not just about assessing isolated impacts, for example, on birds, fish and shipping; it must also understand and address the complex web of dependencies between different features of the environment – an impact on one thing can have knock-on effects on several others.
“The Dogger Bank site is 125km to 290km out to sea and this distance means it is directly adjacent to the territories of other countries, requiring transboundary consultation with nations such as the Netherlands to complete the EIA. Coordinating different companies and environmental technicians to undertake complex analysis on such a large scale is a challenge we relish.
“The UK government has committed to producing 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Projects such as Dogger Bank are essential to achieving this target, so the team has a tight timescale. As Royal HaskoningDHV is undertaking the EIA process for both the offshore and onshore works, the process will be streamlined. The EIAs for each project will be submitted on a rolling programme up to 2014-15.”
As well as being the world’s largest offshore wind farm development, if the Dogger Bank zone reaches its full potential, it will also be one of the largest electricity generating sources of any kind in the world. Rufus Howard comments: “The development of Dogger Bank will be a huge step forward to delivering a future of clean sustainable energy for the UK.
“The sheer scale of the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm zone will cement the UK’s reputation as a world leader in the field of renewable energy and it is Royal HaskoningDHV’s pleasure to be part of something that will have such an impact on energy supply in the future.”
Mark Thomas, Head of Onshore Development: “Royal HaskoningDHV have been our partners since the Round 3 bid phase and they have already dealt with many of the onshore aspects of our EIA to date so this extended scope is a natural evolution and gives a welcome continuity to our relationship. They have a thorough understanding of the Forewind approach and processes which should make for a smooth continuation for our future projects.”