Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has been awarded the firm order from RWE for the 1.4 GW Sofia offshore wind power project. Sofia represents a giant leap for the company; located 195 kilometers off the U.K.’s north eastern coast on Dogger Bank in the North Sea, the project will be the first to install the company’s flagship 14-MW Direct Drive offshore wind turbine.

At 593 square kilometers, the Sofia project will also cover an area greater than that of the Isle of Man and will utilize the evolutionary technology of the SG 14-222 DD offshore wind turbine commercially for the first time anywhere in the world. The development brings other milestones; the 100 turbines will be installed furthest from shore of any project yet undertaken by the company and will feature the world’s largest single-cast turbine blade at 108-meters long.

The B108 blades being used at Sofia are more than six times longer than the first offshore wind turbine blades ever installed, namely the 16-meter long blades used at Vindeby in Denmark in 1991. The 35-meter water depth, the distance from the U.K.’s coastline and the sheer scale of the turbine and its components make the stable, proven technology of Siemens Gamesa’s Direct Drive technology — where no gearbox is involved — an obvious choice for the Sofia wind-power project. The strong, reliable winds far from shore will enable the completed wind-power project to power the equivalent of 1.2 million U.K. households. Offshore construction work for the Sofia project will start in 2023 with turbine installation set for 2025.

The B108 blades take advantage of the IntegralBlade® technology, as well as the superior Siemens Gamesa PowerEdge™ solution and lightning protection system. (Courtesy: Siemens Gamesa)

“The U.K. is the world’s largest offshore wind market, so it is appropriate that it should be the first to install the world’s largest turbine in production, the SG 14-222 DD,” said Marc Becker, CEO of the Siemens Gamesa Offshore Business Unit. “We are proud to be partnering with RWE on another highly significant project and to bring our industry-leading machine to this huge development. A wind-power project of this scale is possible due to the cutting-edge use of technology in the turbines, in their manufacturing, and in installation. Rapid innovation of proven technology has made this leap in generating capacity possible — and with it a leap forward toward the goals of decarbonizing energy and achieving Net Zero.”

“As a leading player in offshore wind, we are delighted to be the first company to sign a firm order with SGRE for these state-of-the-art offshore wind turbines, and that Sofia will be the first project to install them,” said Sven Utermöhlen, chief operating officer of Wind Offshore Global for RWE Renewables. “The fact that our largest offshore wind project will utilize the most innovative and technologically advanced turbines demonstrates RWE’s continued ambition to be a trailblazer at the forefront of the offshore wind sector. We have previously partnered with SGRE on a number of our offshore wind projects, and we look forward to constructing a flagship project that will make a significant contribution both to expanding our renewables portfolio and to the U.K.’s ambition of growing offshore wind capacity to 40 GW by 2030.”

The giant leap forward in generating capacity is a critical tool in building a greener power infrastructure and a step forward to achieving Net Zero. Although the Sofia development will cover an area equivalent to the Isle of Man, the generating capacity would power households the equivalent of 14 times the Isle of Man, or four times a city the size of Hull — the center of the U.K.’s offshore wind power industry.

Siemens Gamesa’s long association with the U.K. sees Sofia as the latest step in offshore wind developments that began in 2011. Since then, the company has installed about 1,700 offshore wind turbines totaling more than 8 GW of capacity. Included in these achievements are three successive “world’s largest” wind-power projects and the creation of a hub for U.K. offshore wind expertise with the company’s manufacturing, port, and training facility in Hull. The firm order for Sofia is accompanied by a contract to undertake the service and maintenance of the 100 turbines.

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