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UK’s Dogger Bank Wind Farm Expansion Receives Planning Approval

Further expansion of the Dogger Bank Zone off the coast of England has been granted planning approval, taking the total consented projects to 4.8 GW.

Forewind is the consortium (made up of RWE Innogy UK, SSE, Statkraft, and Statoil) developing the Dogger Bank Zone, which is the largest of the UK’s Crown Estate’s Round 3 development zones, but is also the farthest from shore while being one of the shallowest zones currently in view of offshore wind development in the UK. The combination of distance from shore with shallow seabeds makes Dogger Bank a prime locale for offshore wind development.

Dogger Bank-2Forewind announced on Wednesday the news that planning approval had been granted for the next development stage of the Dogger Bank Zone, the Dogger Bank Teesside A&B projects. This brings the total consented projects being developed at Dogger Bank up to 4.8 GW, which is almost equal to the total offshore wind capacity currently under operation in the UK. This is the second planning approval granted to Forewind, following the approval granted to the 2.4 GW Dogger Bank Creyke Beck in February.

Dogger Bank Teesside A&B is also planned for 2.4 GW, and according to Forewind makes them “the equal largest renewable energy applications ever to be approved in the UK, and together the world’s biggest planned offshore wind scheme.” The projects will both be 1.2 GW installations with up to 200 wind turbines each, spread out across an area of around 600 km2 and located 165 kilometers from the UK coast at the closest point.

“This awe-inspiring offshore wind project has taken another significant step forward,” said RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery. “The sheer size of Dogger Bank illustrates just how large the environmental and economic opportunities are in the North Sea for the UK’s world-leading offshore wind industry.”

The approval comes at a critical time for the UK’s renewable energy industry, as it continues to face political pressure with cuts and threats of cuts to industry subsidies. The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced in June that the UK onshore wind industry will no longer have access to the country’s primary renewables subsidiary scheme, starting April 1, 2016.

This news was followed up in July by news that the DECC will be initiating consultations on further restricting access to the Renewable Obligation scheme to solar development, as well as investigating access to the Feed-in Tariff scheme.

RenewableUK, the trade body for the UK’s wind, wave, and tidal industries, also pointed out that the Government has postponed the next round of auctions for Contracts for Difference, “which provide financial support for renewable projects.”

Across the board, industry insiders and experts are calling on the Government to provide clarity on the support they are and are not providing the national renewable energy industry, as well as imploring the Government to begin interacting with the industry to come to agreeable and sensible withdrawal measures. This is especially the case, considering recent figures from the International Monetary Fund which highlight the absurd discrepancy between subsidies being doled out to the fossil fuel energy industry in the UK (and globally), compared to the renewable energy industry, which is forever being forced to suffer cutbacks of Government aid.

“However, the ambition of the industry needs to be matched by a vision from Government which is backed up by firm commitments on the levels of financial provision which will be available,” continued Maria McCaffery. “We need to know that the political appetite exists to ensure that major infrastructure projects like this will gain the right level of support from Ministers – they hold the keys to unlocking the vast potential of the North Sea’s clean energy resources. The industry is set to play its part – but it needs a fair wind from Westminster in order to do so.”

In fact, Dogger Bank Creyke Beck and Dogger Bank Teesside A&B will be equal second largest power generators to the 3.9 GW Drax coal-fired station in North Yorkshire. Dogger Bank Teesside A&B will generate 8 TWh of electricity each year, which is the equivalent electricity needed to power all the commercial and industrial consumers in the North East of England, every year, and equal to the amount used by 2 million British homes, each year.

Unsurprisingly, making use of the whole of the Dogger Bank Zone is important to Forewind, and sometime in 2016 we are looking forward to news on the approval process for Dogger Bank Teesside C&D, another 2.4 GW extension to the area.

“Today’s announcement marks a great success for the future of the UK’s infrastructure development and is testimony to the hard work of Forewind and the wider offshore wind industry in getting these large scale projects through the planning system,” said Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate. “The scale of the Dogger Bank projects offers a significant opportunity to continue to drive down costs, create high value jobs, and support the UK’s transition to a low carbon energy supply.”

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