Some of us remember when the words “North Sea” meant massive oil and gas platforms dotting the ocean floor between the UK and Europe. But the only constant in life is change, so they say, and my, how things have changed in that area over the past 30 years. On November 26, Equinor and SSE Renewables announced they had completed the financing arrangements for the first two phases of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which will be located in the North Sea about 160 kilometers east of Yorkshire in the UK. The financing package amounts to a total of $8 billion and involves 29 banks, government agencies, and export credit institutions. Funding for the third phase of the project is expected to competed before the end of 2021.
Susan Flanagan, president & CEO of GE Energy Financial Services, said in a press release following the closing of the financial portion of the project, “Sourcing financing from the private and public sectors to enable GE’s flagship 13 MW Haliade-X offshore wind farm technology in the UK demonstrates increasing appetite by developers and investors to build and fund renewable energy infrastructure projects. As more mega-offshore wind projects come to market, we are seeing sponsors tap into export credit agencies to support the debt requirements of these capital-intensive projects and attract the needed capital to bring such projects online. In the UK and across Europe, strong renewables build out is expected to continue and offshore is seen as a transformative energy source that will have a major impact on the pace of the energy transition.”
The Dogger Bank Wind Farm will be constructed in three phases, helpfully designated Dogger Bank A, Dogger Bank B, and Dogger Bank C. The first two phases will begin construction next year with the final phase beginning a few years later. Once all phases are completed in 2026, it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world. SSE Renewables will take the lead in the construction of the wind farm while Equinor will be in charge of operating and administering the project. It is expected to first begin producing electricity in 2023.
The Haliade-X 13 Is A Magnificent Beast
The first two phases of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm will be powered by 190 Haliade-X 13 MW turbines supplied by General Electric Renewable Energy. A single turbine can provide enough clean energy to power 16,000 British households and save the equivalent of 9,000 vehicles’ emissions in a year. Each blade is 107 meters (351 feet) long. To put that in perspective, the wingspan of a Boeing 747-800 is a mere 68.4 meters. A building 351 feet tall would have at least 35 stories. These things are BIG! Each rotation of one of the turbines generates enough electricity to power a typical UK home for 2 days.
GE Renewable Energy announced on November 12 that its Haliade-X 12 MW prototype, the world’s most powerful wind turbine in operation today, received a full type certificate from DNV GL, the world’s largest independent certification body. This full type certification provides independent verification that the new turbines will operate safely, reliably and according to design specifications and is a key step in enabling customers to obtain financing when purchasing the turbines.
The process of certifying the Haliade-X involved a series of tests on a 12 MW prototype located in Rotterdam and tests of the turbine’s 107 meter blades at the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in Blyth and the Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center in Boston. The 13 MW turbines are a further development of the 12 MW turbines that were tested and use the same blades.
Vincent Schellings, chief technology officer for offshore wind at GE Renewable Energy, said “This is a key milestone for us as it gives our customers the ability to obtain financing when purchasing the Haliade-X. Our continued goal is to provide them the technology they need to drive the global growth of offshore wind as it becomes an ever more affordable and reliable source of renewable energy.”
Each phase of the project will supply 1.2 GW of electricity to the UK. When completed, the Dogger Bank Wind Farm will have a total output of 3.6 GW, enough to supply 5% of all the electricity consumed in the UK.
Boris Johnson Speaks
According to CNBC, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the annual convention of the Conservative Party last month, “We believe that in 10 years’ time, offshore wind will be powering every home in the country, with our target rising from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts. You heard me right: your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle, the whole lot of them, will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands,” he said. While far from eloquent, at least he didn’t riff about how wind turbines “kill all the birds – all the birds” like the disgraced former president of the United States likes to tell conservatives on the other side of the Atlantic.
Politics aside, it appears nothing can derail the transition to renewable energy as prices for wind, solar, and storage continue to plummet worldwide. We may not be quite at the “electricity too cheap to meter” stage yet, but the world is definitely moving in that direction.
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