RWE, one of the world’s leading players in offshore wind, has begun construction of its flagship 1.4 gigawatts Sofia Offshore Wind Farm project, the largest project currently in construction across its entire renewables fleet.
Achievement of the construction milestone is a pivotal moment for the project, after The Crown Estate in 2010 awarded the rights to develop offshore wind energy on Dogger Bank to a consortium of four leading energy companies, including RWE, as part of its Round 3 Leasing Round.
The project has since passed a number of milestones in preparation for construction, achieving a Development Consent Order from the Secretary of State in 2015, and submitting a winning bid to the UK Government’s fourth Contract for Difference auction in 2019, with the lowest ever strike price of £39.65 per megawatt hour (in 2012 prices). Finally, in March this year (2021), RWE took the Financial Investment Decision project, which represents a total investment of approximately £3 billion.
The official construction will start with onshore activities, which are also known as enabling works. UK firm Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK has been contracted to carry out the work. These works take place at the site of the new high-voltage direct current converter station, located near the village of Lazenby in Teesside, and which will be constructed by GE’s Grid Solutions, starting in early 2022.
Initial work on the 7 kilometre onshore cable route will start at around the same time, with the contractor for that package due to be announced later this year. RWE has contracted Prysmian to supply and install the onshore export cable from a point between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea to the new converter station, before connecting to the existing National Grid substation in Lackenby, Teesside.
Sofia is a 1.4 gigawatts (GW) offshore wind farm located on Dogger Bank, 195 km from the nearest point on the UK’s North East coast. Consisting of a total of 100 turbines, the wind farm is the largest and furthest offshore for RWE, and will provide invaluable experience for the company which is also developing two new adjacent sites, also located on Dogger Bank.
Offshore installation is expected to begin in 2023, with final project completion expected in the fourth quarter of 2026. Sofia will be the first project in the world to install Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s brand new 14 MW wind turbine, the most advanced offshore wind turbine technology available.
The UK plays a key role in RWE’s strategy to grow its renewables portfolio and become carbon neutral by 2040. In addition to Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, the company is also constructing the 857 MW offshore wind farm Triton Knoll off the Lincolnshire coast (RWE’s pro rata share: 506 MW) which is expected to be fully commissioned in the first quarter of 2022. RWE is also progressing four extension projects in the UK, with a combined potential installed capacity of around 2.6 GW (RWE’s pro rata share: 1.3 GW. ) Furthermore, the company successfully bid for two new adjacent offshore sites – also on Dogger Bank – with a potential total installed capacity of 3 GW in The Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Round 4 Leasing auction.