ABB has been selected by energy companies SSE Renewables and Equinor to use its high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter systems to connect the world's largest offshore wind farms to the UK transmission network.
The contract to connect two wind farms in the Dogger Bank region of the North Sea is the first use of the HVDC technology, already deployed to connect international interconnectors to the UK grid, in the UK's offshore wind market.
ABB will supply its patented, highly compact HVDC converter systems, while Aibel will deliver two HVDC offshore converter platforms.
The Dogger Bank development consists of three 1.2 GW wind farm projects - Creyke Beck A and B, and Teesside A (see above) - which are being developed by a 50:50 joint venture between Equinor and SSE Renewables.
ABB has been awarded contracts to connect Creyke Beck A and Creyke Beck B.
This will be the first offshore HVDC solution in the UK which opens up new markets and opportunities
Halfdan Brustad, vice president, Equinor
Dogger Bank is considered an attractive location for offshore wind farms because it is far from shore - about 130km from the Yorkshire coast - yet the water depth is shallow enough for traditional fixed foundation wind turbine designs.
The three Dogger Bank offshore wind farms are together expected to power 4.5 million homes and increase current offshore wind capacity by 3.6 GW.
The first site is expected to be operational by 2023.
ABB's proprietary HVDC convertor system will convert alternating current (AC) at 66 kilovolts to direct current (DC), via offshore inverters platforms built by Aibel.
These are designed to be unmanned, operated from shore and accessed only by a service operations vessel
The power will then be transmitted onshore, via HVDC transmission links.
At two onshore convertor stations, built by ABB, the transmitted power will then be converted back to 400 kilovolts AC for export to two nearby National Grid substations, at Creyke Beck in east Yorkshire and Lackenby in Teesside.
Claudio Facchin, president of ABB's power grids business, said: "Winning the contracts from SSE Renewables and Equinor for the landmark Dogger Bank project underscores ABB's innovative offshore wind technology and expertise.
"It also highlights the success of ABB Power Grids' customer partnerships, both on design optimization as well as on the business model level."
"ABB is committed to delivering sustainable solutions with pioneering technologies and in the Dogger Bank project we are helping to make offshore wind competitive and thus contributing to a stronger, smarter and greener grid."
In 2016, ABB and Aibel announced a partnership on the design, engineering and optimization of offshore wind connections.
Paul Cooley, director of capital projects at SSE Renewables, said: "Dogger Bank is truly a world-leading project, pushing new boundaries in the provision of ground-breaking technology to deliver low-carbon energy generation to help achieve the UK's net zero ambition by 2050.
"The appointment of Aibel and ABB as project partners will ensure that the latest grid solution technology is deployed to support our successful project delivery."
Commercial HVDC technology was pioneered by ABB more than 60 years ago. It is a highly efficient alternative to alternating current (AC) for transmitting large amounts of electricity with higher efficiency and lower electrical losses.
Halfdan Brustad, vice president for Dogger Bank at Equinor, said: "This is an important milestone for Dogger Bank with a groundbreaking HVDC technology solution enabling a competitive solution for offshore wind at a long distance from shore.
"This will be the first offshore HVDC solution in the UK which opens up new markets and opportunities. The appointment of Aibel and ABB demonstrates cross industry collaboration bringing best expertise into a successful Dogger Bank delivery."