Dogger Bank Wind Farm: North Sea turbine foundations are a 'giant leap for offshore wind globally'

Work has started on the installation of 277 of some of the world’s largest offshore wind turbine foundations in the North Sea.

The first foundations being installed for the Dogger Bank Wind Farm Credit: Dogger Bank Wind Farm
The first foundations being installed for the Dogger Bank Wind Farm Credit: Dogger Bank Wind Farm

In recent days the first monopile – a steel tube driven into the seabed – has been installed on Dogger Bank A, some 80 miles off Yorkshire’s coast.

The monopiles can measure up to 72m – equivalent to more than six double-decker buses end-to-end.

It marks another milestone in the construction of the 3.6GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which will be capable of powering six million UK homes on completion.

The first foundation is installed Credit: DEME Group

The foundations are UK-designed and feature a unique split-level “transition piece” which carries elements like ladders and platforms, as well as the world’s-largest eight-metre flange – or projecting flat rim – to support the turbine towers.

GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X turbines, which measure 260 metres high, from base to blade tips, will start being installed onto the foundations next spring.

Steve Wilson, SSE Renewables’ project director for Dogger Bank Wind Farm, said the project was a “giant leap for offshore wind globally”.

He said: “These foundations have been designed for what is arguably the most demanding wave environment to be encountered on an offshore wind farm and are a testament to the many companies involved in collaborating to reach this unprecedented milestone.

The massive foundations are installed Credit: DEME Group

“As well as the sheer scale of the foundations, we’ve incorporated a unique split-level transition piece which allows safe access for technicians directly into the turbine tower from our service and operations vessels, eliminating thousands of manual handling activities and lifting operations over the lifetime of the assets.

“Successful installation of our first monopiles and transitions pieces is a giant leap for offshore wind globally and will lay the foundations for Dogger Bank Wind Farm to contribute to meeting the UK’s net zero target, enabling the development of a future energy system that is cleaner, cheaper and more secure.

“It also demonstrates the continued innovation in our sector as we begin to install the increasingly larger and more powerful turbines that are needed to fuel our homes and businesses safely and securely in a net zero world.”

The three-year programme will see the 277 monopiles and transition pieces loaded onto installation vessels in Rotterdam, which will fix the position they need to be using dynamic positioning technology.

The monopiles are then upended and transferred to a pile gripper, before being lowered into the seabed and hammered in to the correct depth. A European consortium, Sif and Smulders, has been awarded the contracts for the manufacture of the monopiles and transition pieces for the three phases of the wind farm.