The latest seabed survey of the Dogger Bank offshore wind zone takes the cost of the Forewind consortium's spend on offshore surveys to almost £45 million.
Since being awarded the rights to develop Dogger Bank in January 2010, Forewind has undertaken a huge range of geotechnical, geophysical and fish ecology surveys to understand and characterise the seabed and marine conditions of the zone as part of its environmental impact assessment work.
The majority of the contracts have gone to UK companies including Hull-based Precision Marine Survey Limited, Suffolk’s Brown & May Marine Limited, Geotech Limited and the Gardline group of companies based in Norfolk, and RPS Group, which has locations UK-wide. Forewind’s latest contract has been awarded to Fugro EMU Limited, a UK firm based in Southampton.
Forewind General Manager, Lee Clarke said Forewind’s almost £45 million of contract awards is just the beginning of the vast investment required to make Dogger Bank a reality but illustrates the enormous potential for the UK supply chain.
The Dogger Bank Zone is 8660km2 and if fully developed could provide the UK with almost 10 per cent of its projected energy supplies. Forewind is committed to securing all the necessary consents required for the construction and development of the zone, potentially the world’s largest offshore wind energy project.
Due to its size and complexity, the zone will be divided into nominal stages, or tranches, and then from those areas, up to eight individual wind farm projects will be developed. The boundaries of four 1.2GW wind farms have been identified to date, Dogger Bank Creyke Beck A and B, connecting into the National Grid in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and Dogger Bank Teesside A and B, connecting into an existing substation in Tees Valley.
Forewind’s Head of Operations, Simon Franey said that the work to date has mostly focused on the first two tranches, A and B, but this new Fugro EMU survey will focus on the third tranche, Tranche C, to assess its benthic population - the community of organisms that live on, in, or near the seabed – and habitat.
“The survey area is approximately 1200km2 and will involve sampling at more than 50 locations,” he said. “When combined with the work completed on the earlier tranches, this will be the biggest investigation of the Dogger Bank benthic environment and fauna ever undertaken.”
The work will include sediment grab sampling and laboratory analysis to identify the organisms found and to analyse the chemical and particle size of the sampled sediments with the aim being to characterise the physio-chemical and biological environment. Seabed video and still photography will be taken, followed by interpretation of the footage to support the sediment grab sampling results.
“This information will ultimately be fed into the development consent applications for the Dogger Bank projects and be used to assist with the engineering and design of the wind farms.”
Fugro EMU will employ its 54 metre vessel, MV Aurelia, with work due to start this month (June 2013) and expected to take approximately four weeks, depending on the weather conditions.
Forewind is a consortium comprising four leading international energy companies – RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil – which joined forces to bid as part of The Crown Estate’s third leasing round for UK offshore wind farms (Round 3).