UK OKs Dudgeon capacity reduction

The UK government has approved a number of key changes to the Dudgeon offshore wind farm, further underscoring its support for a Round 2 project which it hopes to see proceed in short order.

The government has signed off on a plan to shrink Dudgeon by 29% to 400MW, down from its originally consented 560MW – a change requested by Statoil and Statkraft after they acquired the project in 2012 from the developer Warwick Energy.

The consent comes just a few weeks after the government confirmed it would allow offshore wind projects to shrink by up to 30% without incurring financial penalty – a change which looks perfectly tailored for Dudgeon.

After reviewing the design of Dudgeon, Statoil and Statkraft concluded that the number of turbines in the zone should be reduced to prevent a generation-draining wake effect.

Halfdan Brustad, chairman of Dudgeon, says the developers now expect to kit out the zone with 50-80 turbines, signifying a turbine size of 5MW-8MW.

Sheringham Shoal, the operational UK offshore wind farm owned by Statoil and Statkraft, employs Siemens 3.6MW turbines.

Dudgeon is owned 70% by Statoil and 30% by Statkraft.

The UK government has also approved changes to the subsea foundations planned for Dudgeon, and an expansion of the outer boundaries of the project zone in some places.

The developers will be allowed to use suction-bucket foundations or monopiles with a thicker diameter – up to 8.5m – to better deal with “high risk” areas of mobile sand waves and a layer of chalk beneath the subsea bed.

By expanding the “red line boundary” of the project, the developers will be able to sink turbines into areas away from the mobile sand.

Dudgeon was one of four offshore wind projects recently deemed by government as “provisionally affordable” and still in the running for an early Contract for Difference.