A big development in Britain’s race towards net zero has just gone live: Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm currently in construction, has begun to generate electricity for the first time.
Dogger Bank is located 130km off the east coast of Yorkshire and once fully complete in 2026 will be able to generate enough energy to power over six million UK homes annually.
The project is a joint venture between UK-headquartered SSE Renewables, alongside Norwegian companies Equinor and Vårgrønn AS. SSE Renewables is leading the development and construction of the offshore wind farm, while Equinor will operate it from completion for its expected life of around 35 years.
In total, the site will occupy an area that is almost as large as Greater London. The project is being developed across three phases – Dogger Bank A (95 turbines), B (95 turbines) and C (87 turbines). Each phase will host a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts (GW): a total of 3.6GW across the whole operation. The whole project so far – from conception, through to planning, consulting with local communities, and first power – is the result of over 15 years’ worth of work and is already supporting around 2,000 UK jobs in its delivery.
Late on 7 October, Dogger Bank generated power for the first time, marking a landmark moment in Britain’s race towards net zero, and signalling SSE Renewables’ position as a company that is powering change.
“With the installation of the first turbine and turning on of the power at Dogger Bank, there’s been a huge amount of hard work that has gone into that,” says Stephen Wheeler, the Managing Director of SSE Renewables. “It was one of many action steps we’re taking to get to our overall ambition, which is finishing this project: completing the 277 turbine installations scheduled over the next three years, so that we are producing enough energy to supply six million homes in the UK each year.”
The clean, wind-generated energy from Dogger Bank will go a long way to meet Britain’s net zero ambitions, Wheeler adds, reducing carbon emissions involved in supplying homes with electricity equivalent to “taking 1.5 million cars off the road” each year.
“From both a climate change and energy security point of view, that’s really important,” he says.
To achieve these important goals, the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm is equipped with innovative technology that is delivering several world-firsts that will significantly accelerate the speed at which future offshore projects can be developed.
Dogger Bank will be the first High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) connected wind farm in the UK due to its distance from shore. This sees the introduction of new Hitachi Energy transmission systems to Britain, creating a path for other large offshore wind farms to follow. The innovative use of HVDC technology allows the project to minimise the loss of energy which can occur when transporting electricity across such large distances.
GE Vernova, the renewable subsidiary of world-leading multinational General Electric, is providing its Haliade-X turbines for the site, which are almost twice the size of the London Eye. The site will also use the world’s largest jack-up vessel, the Voltaire, which is operated by Jan de Nul, to install the giant wind turbines on site.
The advancements seen on Dogger Bank will pave a path for future renewable wind warms to follow. “There’s been a huge amount of hard work that has gone into achieving everything: with the current project team, past project team and our supplier partners, right across the globe, to deliver on all this,” says Wheeler. “This is a really long term investment to provide that energy security, but also energy affordability for homes and for families all across the UK.”
Dogger Bank, even before officially going live, has also had a positive impact in its local Yorkshire surroundings and beyond. “We look to maximise local benefits in our projects,” says Wheeler. More than 2,000 domestic jobs have been created or supported in the construction and operation of the wind farm. “That starts with delivering high-skilled, well-paid jobs for the people who are working on this project, which provides a really positive significant economic impact for these communities and is absolutely front and centre in what we develop.”
In the long term, Dogger Bank will sell its power to market at around £50 per megawatt hour (MWh), which is “less than half of current costs” based on current wholesale prices, says Wheeler. This will be good value for UK inc, and good value for “families, households and society”, he adds.
In future, there is the potential to go further, with a fourth phase, Dogger Bank D. It’s currently just a proposed development, subject to approval from the Crown Estate, but a future site could add up to 2GW to the wind farm’s overall capacity, noted Wheeler. “At this stage, plans are still very early,” he says, “but you would be seeing around that amount of additional capacity to what we already have.”
The first powering of turbines at the Dogger Bank Wind Farm comes at an important juncture in Britain’s push towards net zero emissions. “I believe we should look towards what Dogger Bank and our partners have achieved to really set the blueprint for the green industrial revolution that the UK must lead on,” says Wheeler.
To meet the UK government’s ambitious target of increasing current offshore wind capacity fivefold to 50GW by 2030, the country “needs to go big, and we need to do it quickly,” believes Wheeler. SSE Renewables’ work on Dogger Bank sits alongside its other clean energy project plans, including its plans to build Britain’s biggest pumped hydro storage facility at Coire Glas, in the Scottish Highlands, and to create the Berwick Bank offshore wind farm in the North Sea. Berwick Bank has the potential to deliver up to 4.1GW of installed capacity, making it one of the largest offshore opportunities in the world. “It’s about putting our money where our mouth is, in terms of delivering our action programme of new renewable projects,” says Wheeler.
Dogger Bank Wind Farm needs to be the start of an urgent journey that all stakeholders in the world of energy, including retailers, regulators and governments, cannot afford to waste time on. “The fight against climate change is now – it’s never been more urgent,” says Wheeler. “Renewable energy has a huge part to play in that fight.
“Renewables projects need to be built now,” he adds. “And that’s why I think the first powering of Dogger Bank is really important… what it has proven is that projects of this scale are now mainstream, and that we need to get on and build more of these projects, at scale and at pace, to reach our net zero targets.”