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Ground officially broken on Operations and Maintenance Base for world’s biggest offshore wind farm

Dogger Bank Wind Farm was delighted to mark the official ground-breaking for its net zero carbon Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Base at the Port of Tyne.

At 3.6GW, the wind farm will become the biggest in the world when operational in 2026, and be capable of providing around 5% of the UK’s electricity.

The Government has committed to decarbonize the UK’s electricity system by 2035, and anticipates that by 2030 offshore wind could generate enough electricity to power every UK home.

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SSE Renewables is leading on the construction of the wind farm, and Equinor will operate the wind farm from the new base, for its operational life expected to be 35 years.

Mark Halliday, Operations Director for Dogger Bank, said: 

“Dogger Bank Wind Farm will be a large contributor to the UK’s net zero ambitions, at the same time creating jobs and bringing investments to the local economy.

“This groundbreaking is a proud moment for the project and marks the start of more than 35 years’ presence by the Dogger Bank operations team here at Port of Tyne.  As well as building a state-of-the-art facility, we are looking forward to building up a fantastic team based here and working with others in the region to develop a world-leading offshore wind cluster.”

Matt Beeton, CEO at Port of Tyne said: 

“It is a huge win for the region that the Operations and Maintenance base for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm will be right here at the Port of Tyne. Being home to Dogger Bank firmly places the North East at the centre of the offshore energy transition, and we are already seeing ripple effects within the local offshore wind supply chain. As our first resident of the Tyne Clean Energy Park, we are confident this base will attract other significant manufacturing and operational businesses to the Tyne.”

Dogger Bank will be located more than 130km offshore, and the Operations and Maintenance Base will be the onshore hub for the wind farm.

Over 200 people will be based there or offshore to operate and maintain the 277 turbines and associated infrastructure needed to generate power for millions of homes. Recruitment will ramp up in 2022, as the project looks to fill roles including wind farm technician, project planners, engineers and management.

As well as offices for those based onshore and a warehouse to store spare parts for the wind farm, the design includes development of a new quay suitable for the state-of-the-art Service Operations Vessels (SOVs) that provide accommodation, and transport for technicians to and from the wind farm. The vessels will come to the port approximately twice a month for resupply and crew change.

The 3400m2 base is expected to complete in Q4 2022, ahead of wind farm operations starting in 2023. The construction of the O&M base is being managed by Equinor, which has contracted global real estate advisor CBRE as the Principal Designer, and Bowmer + Kirkland (B+K) as the Principal Contractor for the facility.

The O&M base will be constructed and operated in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework to ensure transparent and robust reporting of its sustainability credentials. It will use low carbon materials and will meet the highest energy efficiency classifications. Solar PV panels will be installed for onsite renewable generation, and EV charging points will be available so staff and visitors can travel there in low emissions vehicles, further reducing the wider impact.

Construction of other parts of the wind farm has already begun, with onshore cabling works progressing well despite the global pandemic.

Dogger Bank Project Director, Steve Wilson, said: 

“Today we’re celebrating the start of work to build this innovative zero carbon base, but it’s also a great chance to take stock and celebrate what’s already been achieved since the overall construction of the wind farm commenced in early 2020.

“With around a third of the onshore high voltage cables now in place for the first two phases of the wind farm and the first onshore convertor station starting to take shape, we’re looking forward to getting started on the offshore installation work during 2022 that will be critical to this world-leading renewable energy asset becoming fully operational from 2026.”

The project is being built in three phases; Dogger Bank A, B and C. Dogger Bank A and B are a joint venture between Equinor (40%), SSE Renewables (40%), and Eni (20%). In November 2021 Equinor and SSE Renewables, 50:50 joint venture partners in Dogger Bank C, announced Eni will take a 20% stake in the final phase, with SSE Renewables and Equinor maintaining 40% stakes each. The deal is expected to complete in Q1 2022 subject to Dogger Bank C Financial Close and regulatory approvals.

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