Norwegian energy company Equinor and its partner SSE Renewables have been awarded contracts to develop three large-scale offshore wind projects in the Dogger Bank region of the North Sea.

The Dogger Bank wind farm will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm development, consisting of three projects: Creyke Beck A, Creyke Beck B and Teesside A. Equinor and SSE will both own 50% of the three projects, as agreed in August 2017. The development will have a total installed capacity of 3.6 gigawatts (GW), enough energy to power 4.5 million UK homes.

The contracts were given under the Contracts for Difference auction held by the National Grid for the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and offer a fixed price for the development’s first 15 years of operation.

The clearing prices for the projects are £39.65 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for Creyke Beck A and £43.61 per MWh for Creyke Beck B and Teesside A. The Dogger Bank projects are estimated to trigger a total capital investment of around £9bn between 2020 and 2026.

Equinor and SSE plan to seek additional project financing for the Dogger Bank project, with preliminary communications with potential lenders suggesting strong interest in UK offshore wind assets.

Equinor CEO Eldar Sætre said: “The successful bids for the world’s largest offshore wind development represent a game-changer for our offshore wind business and support the development of Equinor as a broad energy company.

“A full-scale development of Dogger Bank will constitute an industrial wind hub in the heart of the North Sea, playing a major role in the UK’s ambitions for offshore wind and supporting the net-zero ambition.

“Excellent wind speeds, shallow waters and scale make Dogger Bank well positioned to deliver low cost renewable electricity to UK homes and businesses.”

Equinor will be the lead operator for operations, while SSE will be the lead operator during the project construction phase. Both companies will provide personnel for the operations and execution teams.

SSE Renewables managing director Jim Smith said: “We are thrilled at the success of our offshore wind projects at Dogger Bank which combined will be the largest wind farm in the world.

“Reaching this point has been a culmination of over 10 years of development and it is very exciting to work with Equinor on taking the project forward. We’re confident our wealth of offshore wind experience will enable us to deliver these unique projects.

“This success demonstrates that offshore wind is the key technology to enable the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050 in the most cost-effective way, whilst also delivering significant economic benefits across the country.”

Equinor and SSE are expecting a final investment decision for the first project to be made in 2020, with first power generation planned for 2023 and further phases of the Dogger Bank project to be developed after this first generation.