The Dogger Bank A and B phases of the Dogger Bank wind farm have awarded UK-based, North Star Renewables, contracts for delivering three service operation vessels (SOVs) for the operation of these phases. The total value of the contracts including options is estimated at about GBP 270 million (approximately AU$483 million).
The three SOVs will incorporate the latest technology, including a hybrid battery solution and power-to-shore to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Technicians servicing the turbines will spend two weeks on board the high-tech vessels, more than 130 kilometres off the North East coast of England, ensuring the wind farm phases are safely and efficiently maintained to provide optimum wind turbine availability.
SSE Renewables is the operator during the construction phase of the wind farm and Equinor will be the operator during the operations and maintenance phase.
Around 200 people will be needed to operate the wind farm, based either offshore or at a new base to be constructed at the Port of Tyne.
Vice President for Dogger Bank at Equinor, Halfdan Brustad, said the company is pleased that a UK supplier has won these contracts in a tough international competition.
“The awards will create a good basis for Aberdeen-headquartered North Star to expand their services to support the UK’s growing offshore wind sector. Dogger Bank is at the forefront of innovation, and we want to attract the best talents to come work on this ground-breaking project. The high-end SOVs will ensure our teams have a comfortable stay offshore, which is important before a day’s work on the turbines. We have incorporated leading technology to ensure we can operate the wind farm safely, sustainably and efficiently,” shared Brustad.
Dogger Bank will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world when complete in 2026, and is being built in three equal phases of 1.2 gigawatts: Dogger Bank A, B and C.
North Star will deliver one SOV to be used for scheduled maintenance at Dogger Bank A and B. The vessel is due to be delivered in January 2024 and will also serve Dogger Bank C when this phase of the wind farm is operational.
A further two SOVs will be delivered by North Star to be used for corrective maintenance, at Dogger Bank A and Dogger Bank B. Delivery of these vessels is scheduled for July 2023 and July 2024 respectively.
A further contract for an SOV to be used for corrective maintenance at Dogger Bank C will be tendered at a later stage.
Each vessel will have dynamic positioning (DP2) capability, with walk-to-work gangways for safe transfer of personnel and equipment to and from the turbines.
Using these gangways means that technicians will be able to transfer safely in wave heights above three metres, increasing the productive time on turbines and optimising wind farm availability.
All three contracts will run for a fixed period of 10 years and include three one-year options.
Onshore construction for Dogger Bank A and B commenced in January 2020 and remains on track despite challenges presented by COVID-19. Offshore installation will begin from 2022, with the first power from Dogger Bank A expected in the same year.
Dogger Bank Wind Farm Project Director, Steve Wilson, said while work continues to ramp up on the construction of the wind farm, these state-of-the-art hybrid vessels will play a critical future role in ensuring the safe and efficient maintenance of the development when it reaches the operational phase.
“It’s an important milestone for the project and provides some insight into what life will be like working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm whilst living on board these technologically advanced SOVs,” Wilson said.
Dogger Bank A and B are a joint venture between Equinor (40 per cent), SSE Renewables (40 per cent) and Eni (20 per cent). These phases reached financial close in November 2020, securing the largest ever project financing in offshore wind.
The third phase, Dogger Bank C, is being developed on a different timescale and is owned by Equinor (50 per cent) and SSE Renewables (50 per cent). Financial close is expected in late 2021.