As a graduate engineer working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm Grant Beaton is not only developing his professional expertise, but he’s also feeding his desire to play a critical role in the global energy transition.
The 24-year-old University of Strathclyde graduate shares an insight into his role on Dogger Bank Wind Farm, offers advice to industry hopefuls and talks about why a trainee engineer should never stop asking questions.
“After leaving school I went to study a Masters in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Doing a joint degree was challenging but definitely worthwhile, and I’m keen to develop my knowledge of both fields as I progress in my role on Dogger Bank Wind Farm as a graduate engineer.
“The renewable energy industry is constantly growing and is a sector that will continue to innovate as we meet the demands of the net zero journey, so I was thrilled to be able to join the Dogger Bank team in September 2020.
“I’ve always had a keen interest in the pursuit of solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, and that’s pretty much what drove my desire to become an engineer. Even from the start of my studies until now there has been a real shift in the momentum of people wanting their energy to be produced in a more sustainable way, and it’s exciting to be part of that change.
“It’s been incredible to be working on a project the size of Dogger Bank and to be able to say you’ve contributed to it, but I can’t deny it’s also been a real learning curve. The hard work and ingenuity that goes on across the team on a daily basis is inspiring. As a young professional just starting out on a career path it’s been invaluable to understand the challenges and strengths required to make a project like this a success. That’s something that will stick with me for the rest of my career and will undoubtedly shape the engineer I’ll become.
“My long-term goals are to help the industry to achieve the net zero vision. On a short-term personal level I’m pretty open-minded about where my career will take me and what I’d like to do after finishing the graduate scheme. Throughout the two years I want to gain as much experience as possible, in as many business areas and teams as I can, and I’m obviously spoilt for choice when it comes to working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
“I’ve got a brilliant opportunity to work in roles I’ve had little or no knowledge about previously and I feel that will only be beneficial to my future career. I want to understand as much as possible about how the different teams and departments work together to bring projects like Dogger Bank through to completion.
“I have no regrets about the career choices I’ve made and would advise green-energy hopefuls to be open-minded about where they might fit into the renewable industry. Even if there is something you’re currently really passionate about, I’ve learnt that giving the time to different areas is beneficial to increase your knowledge, experience and overall confidence. I also think the best thing a young engineer can do is to keep asking questions, no matter how simple or complex they may be. Asking a question and getting an explanation that finally makes something click can take all of 2 minutes, but will make all the difference to the contribution you can make to a project like Dogger Bank.
“It’s hard to go half a day these days without hearing another story illustrating the severity of the climate crisis we find ourselves in. With the capacity to provide renewable energy for 6 million UK homes, Dogger Bank Wind Farm is demonstrating what can be achieved when you build on this scale using some of the world’s best available technology.
“I’ve got a real opportunity to contribute to this world-leading project and shape the future of green energy. I can’t think of another graduate opportunity that holds more promise for a young engineer.”
Grant Beaton, Graduate Engineer, Dogger Bank Wind Farm
South Tyneside manufacturer Metec UK has won two multi-million pound contracts on Dogger Bank Wind Farm.
Metec UK manufactures sacrificial anodes for the long-term protection of steel jackets and foundations against corrosion, and is used in the offshore renewable energy industry.
The fast-growing company, established only four years ago, will supply cathodic protection sacrificial anodes for transition pieces and monopiles, for the first two phases of the record-breaking wind farm.
Built by SSE Renewables and operated by Equinor, the wind farm has already created or supported thousands of new jobs and will be built in three phases, Dogger Bank A, B and C.
Alberto Via, UK Managing Director of METEC UK, said:
“Over the last six months we’ve been absolutely delighted to win a number of domestic and international contracts, including in Scotland, France and Holland. These latest successes – and in particular the flagship Dogger Bank Wind Farm contract – justifies our commitment to South Tyneside, the north-east and the UK. Our success demonstrates our ability to support large, important and prestigious renewable energy projects of this nature throughout the UK and Europe.
“We have the capacity, capability and expertise at Metec that places us right at the heart of where we need to be in an industry which is set to see significant growth and investment over the next 10 years.
“As a young, ambitious and expanding company, which has invested over £4 million in premises and furnaces since 2017, we expect to see further growth throughout 2021. We are in this for the long term and we’re very excited for the future of Metec and the industry as a whole.”
Metec UK, which has manufacturing facilities in South Shields and Tunisia with representation around the globe, is a leading manufacturer of corrosion protection for high value subsea assets. Initially employing just six people, the company now has 45 people within its business.
Halfdan Brustad, Vice President for Dogger Bank at Equinor, said:
“As we build up our operations in South Tyneside it’s great to see a local company not only win this flagship contract with the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, but also exporting to other countries.
“With ambitious targets to quadruple UK capacity in the next decade, the offshore wind industry provides billions of pounds of supply chain opportunities, and in supporting UK companies we will also build up a competitive supply chain that can win international contracts.
“We look forward to continuing to work with UK companies, particularly in northern England where we will operate the wind farm for decades to come.”
Metec UK is a sub-contractor with Dogger Bank Wind Farm’s tier one contractor, Smulders. Smulders was selected for the supply, fabrication and fit-out of the secondary steel for the transition pieces in late 2020. Smulders will work alongside Sif, the company selected to provide fabrication and supply of 190 monopiles and primary steel for the transition pieces.
History students from Outwood Academy Bydales in Marske-by-the Sea got a glimpse of their local area’s past when they visited an archaeological dig being carried out for two giant offshore wind energy projects.
Twenty year 8 students walked only 200 metres from their school to see the World War I practice trenches uncovered by Durham University’s Archaeological Services (DUAS) as part of the pre-construction survey being carried out for Dogger Bank C and Sofia Offshore Wind Farm.
The separate wind farm projects are sited on Dogger Bank in the middle of the North Sea, more than 190 kilometres from the north-east coast of England. The power they produce will be transmitted by export cables that arrive on shore between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea, on Teesside.
Despite different ownership – Sofia is owned by RWE Renewables while Dogger Bank C is the third phase in the wider Dogger Bank Wind Farm project and is owned 50/50 by SSE Renewables and Equinor – the projects are cooperating closely due to their proximity and to reduce impacts on local stakeholders.
Archaeologists from Durham University talked to students about the archaeological works on the site, why they are necessary for an offshore wind farm and how the information is recorded and analysed.
History teacher Gemma Green was able to give them details about why the more than 100-year-old trenches were there and the wider historical context. During WWI, the area was an airfield, set up as a ‘finishing school’ for pilots to learn combat flying.
“What an opportunity to witness WW1 history on our doorstep” said Gemma.
“We usually associate trenches with Northern France and Belgium but this gave our students and staff the chance to uncover that soldiers practiced digging trenches here in Marske before heading to the Western Front. This really brought history to life.”
The site near the landfall is now a modern housing estate known as The Landings, with streets named after people and aircraft connected with World War II, despite the airfield not being used during that conflict.
Archaeologist Peter Carne, said:
“It is great these offshore wind projects provided the opportunity to uncover the remains of WWI in the area, and we are really pleased that local children have been able to visit and see for themselves.”
Dogger Bank Wind Farm Community Engagement Manager, Rachel Lawrence, said:
“It’s exciting to be able to unearth fragments of history as we build the future energy infrastructure for UK homes and businesses. We were delighted to be able to share this experience with pupils from Outwood Academy Bydales and bring their history textbooks to life right on their doorstep.”
UK industrial lifting specialist Granada Material Handling has secured four contracts to provide bespoke cranes for the installation of foundations and offshore convertor platforms on the first two phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm.
A sub-contractor with Dogger Bank Wind Farm’s tier one contractors, Smulders and Aibel, Granada will provide more than 200 specialist cranes to support the offshore construction work on Dogger Bank A and B.
Granada previously secured a contract with Aibel to support the installation of the offshore platform for Dogger Bank A. These latest contracts with Aibel and Smulders confirm Granada’s involvement in the installation of foundations on Dogger Bank A, as well as supporting foundation and offshore platform installation on Dogger Bank B.
With a lifting capacity of 1.2te and a radius of up to 5,000mm, the cranes have been specially designed by the Rochdale-based business to meet the technical requirements of Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which will be the largest in the world when completed in 2026.
The contract will support a further 20 UK-based jobs. The number of UK jobs that will be created to support the delivery and operation of Dogger Bank Wind Farm so far is approaching 3,000.
Mark Sidwell, managing director at Granada, said:
“These contracts are clearly very good news for Granada as a company and also for all our staff, as a recognition of their expertise and commitment. More broadly, it is a significant achievement for the UK wind farm sector and supply chain, generally. It allows GMH to bring more business to our own suppliers and subcontractors.
“The UK is at the cutting-edge of green technology with the know-how, the engineering capability and the capacity to make a significant contribution to this vital part of the economy. We at Granada are delighted to be playing our part in growing this sector and we look forward to working with our supply chain partners and continue to deliver on and contribute to the world’s largest offshore wind farm.”
Dogger Bank Wind Farm Project Director, Steve Wilson, said:
“We’re delighted to confirm another UK-based company has been selected to support the construction of the world’s biggest offshore windfarm.
“Granada’s Python Davit crane has been specifically designed to suit the work platform layout of Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which will install foundations that are among the largest ever used in offshore wind.
“Its unique design will lend itself to safe and efficient maintenance and operation, as well as meeting the demanding technical requirements of a project on this scale.”
Smulders was selected for the supply, fabrication and fit-out of the secondary steel for the transition pieces in late 2020. Smulders will work alongside Sif the company selected to provide fabrication and supply of 190 monopiles and primary steel for the transition pieces.
Aibel has won contracts to provide offshore convertor platforms for all three phases of the wind farm with a revolutionary unmanned High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) offshore substation design. Dogger Bank will be the first HVDC-connected wind farm in the UK, paving the way for other large-scale wind projects.
Dogger Bank Wind Farm will invest £13.5 million in the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership during its lifetime, a funding programme set up to support growth of the UK offshore wind supply chain.
Dogger Bank Wind Farm has signed a contract with Jan De Nul Group for the transport and installation of 87 GE Haliade-X 14 MW offshore wind turbines at the final Dogger Bank C phase of the project, located up to 200 km off the UK’s Yorkshire coast. This third contract award follows the signature in 2020 of packages A and B, each featuring 95 units of 13 MW turbines. The contract is subject to Dogger Bank C reaching Financial Close in late 2021.
The 3.6GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which is being delivered in the North Sea in three 1.2GW phases, is set to be the world’s largest offshore wind farm when complete. The third phase Dogger Bank C is owned by SSE Renewables (50%) and Equinor (50%) and is being developed on a different timescale to Dogger Bank A and B, which are joint venture phases between Equinor (40%), SSE Renewables (40%) and Eni (20%). Once operational, the overall Dogger Bank Wind Farm will generate enough energy to power over 6 million UK homes every year.
Under this latest contract Jan De Nul Group will mobilise its newest Next Gen Offshore Jack-Up Installation Vessel ‘Voltaire’ for the delivery and installation of the 14 MW turbines at Dogger Bank C. The vessel, which will have a lifting capacity of over 3,000 tonnes, is currently under construction and will enter into service in 2022. With the ‘Voltaire’ now committed to turbine transportation and installation at all three phases of the project, Dogger Bank Wind Farm will be the vessel’s first assignment.
The ‘Voltaire’ is named after the pioneering European Enlightenment philosopher and is fitted with a highly advanced exhaust filtering system by means of a Selective Catalytic Reduction system and a Diesel Particulate Filter, making it the very first seagoing installation vessel of its kind to be a Stage V-certified Ultra-Low Emission vessel (ULEv).
Steve Wilson, Dogger Bank Wind Farm’s Project Director at SSE Renewables, said: “Jan De Nul Group has a great track record for the transportation and installation of turbines on scale, and offshore wind farms don’t come any bigger than ours. With a lifting capacity of more than 3,000 tonnes, the ultra-clean Voltaire vessel is set to become the world’s largest jack-up vessel when it enters service in 2022. Securing this state-of-the-art vessel for all three phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm is another reminder of how we’re working with our suppliers to drive innovation in offshore wind.”
Halfdan Brustad, Vice President for Dogger Bank at Equinor, said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured the Voltaire for the third phase of Dogger Bank, as it will follow the turbine installations for phases A and B. By the time Dogger Bank Wind Farm is complete, this low emissions vessel will have installed 277 of the world’s most powerful turbines at the world’s biggest offshore wind farm; quite a feat for the Voltaire’s first assignment! This continued contract with Jan de Nul demonstrates world class innovation delivering at scale, both important factors in ensuring we build Dogger Bank as efficiently and sustainably as possible.”
Philippe Hutse, Director Offshore Division at Jan De Nul Group, said: “Dogger Bank Wind Farm is exactly the type of project we had in mind when we took the decision to build our Voltaire. The scale and characteristics of the offshore Dogger Bank and turbines offer the perfect challenge for this Next Gen Offshore Jack-Up Installation Vessel. We are proud to be recognised in our choices and look forward to working together with industry leaders SSE Renewables and Equinor on the Dogger Bank C phase of this world-leading project. We are excited to take part in the worldwide transition to renewable energies by installing the offshore wind turbines at Dogger Bank A, B and C in the most efficient and clean manner possible.”
Dogger Bank Wind Farm secured 3.6 GW of offshore wind contracts in the UK Government’s 2019 contracts for difference auctions. Record low prices were awarded for the three projects making up Dogger Bank Wind Farm: Dogger Bank A, Dogger Bank B and Dogger Bank C. Dogger Bank C is planned to reach financial close by the end of 2021.
SSE Renewables is leading the development and construction phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm and Equinor will lead on operations for its lifetime of up to 35 years.