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The offshore construction phase officially commenced at RWE’s 1.4 GW Sofia Offshore Wind Farm. This phase involves the installation of crucial subsea cable infrastructure connecting the UK’s northeast coast to the wind farm location on Dogger Bank, situated in the central North Sea.
Prysmian, the cable contractor, will employ their cutting-edge vessel, Leonardo da Vinci, to lay the initial segment of the high voltage direct current (HVDC) export cable. This cable will serve as the conduit for transporting green electricity generated by the wind farm back to the UK coast and, ultimately, into the UK transmission network.
This endeavor represents a significant milestone for the project, underlining RWE’s substantial investment of over £3 billion in the UK’s energy infrastructure. The Sofia Offshore Wind Farm holds the promise of making a substantial contribution to the UK’s net-zero goals, with the capacity to generate clean electricity sufficient to power more than 1.2 million typical UK households.
The Sofia Offshore Wind Farm is situated on Dogger Bank, 195 kilometers from the closest point on the UK’s northeastern coast. The electricity will be transmitted to landfall, which is 220 kilometers away in Redcar, Teesside. This wind farm will rely on 100 Siemens Gamesa 14-megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbines (SG 14-222 DD). The project is slated for completion by the end of 2026, with 44 of these turbines featuring recyclable blades.
For operational and maintenance activities, the wind farm will be supported by RWE’s new offshore wind operations base known as the ‘Grimsby Hub.’ This facility will also provide support to the Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm and upcoming projects.
Prysmian’s 170-meter-long vessel will operate from the Port of Middlesbrough and lay two parallel 130-kilometer cable sections. Its cable laying work will commence just off the Teesside coast, between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea. The subsea cables will be pulled underwater from the vessel through pre-installed cable ducts, passing beneath the beach, sand dunes, and roads before reaching the landfall construction compound. The advanced vessel will move away from the coast, following its designated route towards the offshore wind farm.
The installation of the remaining two 90-kilometer sections of marine export cable is scheduled for 2024. By the end of that year, the Leonardo da Vinci vessel will have laid four sections of ±320kV HVDC marine export cables with XLPE insulation, totaling 440 kilometers, along with the accompanying communication cables.
Onshore construction activities commenced in Teesside in June 2021, focusing on the construction of the onshore converter station and cable corridor. The laying of the initial export cable sections signifies the commencement of a three-year offshore construction phase. Ongoing offshore construction includes the planned arrival of the offshore converter platform, which is set to journey from Batam, Indonesia to the UK in 2024. Additionally, the installation of 100 extended monopile foundations and array cables is scheduled to begin next year.
Tom Glover, RWE’s UK country chair, said, “RWE has 10 offshore wind farms already operating around the UK, and is a leading partner in the generation of clean energy that will help ensure security of electricity supply. This major construction milestone at Sofia further demonstrates our enviable expertise in offshore wind, which has been pioneered over 20 years in the UK. And the UK remains of significant strategic importance to RWE. We are continuing to drive our ambition to grow green through a strong future development pipeline, which will play a key role in delivering our own and the country’s future net zero ambitions.”
Sven Utermöhlen, CEO RWE Offshore Wind, added, “Sofia is RWE’s largest renewable construction project to date, and its furthest from shore. The project is setting new standards in terms of addressing innovation, sustainability, and engineering challenges. The laying of the first section of export cable represents the culmination of 13 years of planning, preparation, and diligence, as well as a huge amount of support from suppliers and stakeholders alike. Building a project of this size and scale is a great opportunity to demonstrate our expertise in delivering offshore wind energy around the globe.”