The Crown Estate Round 3 zones are much larger than those awarded in Round 2 so the sheer size of these developments will dwarf previous projects. Most of the Round 3 development zones have the potential for the construction of multiple wind farm sites.
It is recognised that not all of the Dogger Bank Zone is suitable for wind farm development so Forewind will work with The Crown Estate to identify suitable wind farm sites and then carry out thorough environmental impact assessment and consultation on these sites before submitting applications for consent to build.
The Dogger Bank Zone has many attributes making it an attractive site for offshore wind farm development. It has a good wind resource with higher annual mean wind speeds than the other Round 3 offshore wind farm zones (>10 m/s). It also has relatively shallow water depths and good ground conditions which should enable a broad range of foundation options.
However it also has a number of challenges, not least because it is a huge geographic area located a considerable distance from shore. The project heralds a completely new era for offshore wind and there are many technical and logistical challenges to be addressed. Forewind will need to draw fully on the experience of each of the owner companies and will also look for innovative suppliers and contractors to help meet the challenges and achieve consent.
The realisation of the development will also be heavily dependent on finding solutions to a number of issues such as upgrading the national grid, the consenting process, supply chain and the government's commitment to the renewables industry.
There are potentially tens of thousands of jobs in the fabrication of the components needed for the wind farms – turbines, foundations, cables, offshore substations – as well as in the construction and operation of the wind farm projects themselves. However to secure the investment required to build and operate Dogger Bank, and to entice these component manufacturers to establish operations in the UK, suitable regulatory and economic support mechanisms must be established.