RWE installs first turbine foundation at the flagship Sofia Offshore Wind Farm

EPCI contractor Van Oord is operating foundation installation from the Port of Tyne in North East England. The Port of Tyne facility has been upgraded to support the project delivery as well as future projects of a similar scale.

  • 21 May 2024

RWE installs first turbine foundation at Sofia Offshore Wind Farm

RWE has taken a huge step forward in delivering its flagship Sofia Offshore Wind Farm with the installation of the project’s first offshore turbine foundation.

With a capacity of 1.4 gigawatts (GW), Sofia is RWE’s largest offshore wind farm to date. After its expected commissioning in 2026, the project will be capable of generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1.2 million typical UK homes.

This installation marks the start of offshore construction within the array itself. It is the first of 100 foundations to be installed at the 593km² array. Sven Utermöhlen, CEO RWE Offshore Wind said: “Sofia is RWE’s largest offshore wind construction project to date, and its furthest from shore. Installing the first monopile is a highly symbolic moment in the construction of every offshore wind farm. After 14 years of planning and preparation, this is a great achievement for the entire RWE team. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their contribution. Building a project of this size and scale is a great opportunity to demonstrate our expertise in delivering offshore wind energy around the globe.”

Matthew Swanwick, Project Director, was delighted by the news: “We’ve all been waiting to see these images. Moments like this make it all worthwhile. We are proud to help build an industry that produces sustainable power at best cost to the consumer, while delivering regional economic growth.”

The work also signals a new chapter for the Port of Tyne, which has undergone a significant upgrade in order to support this work. Matt Beeton, Chief Executive of the Port of Tyne, said: "With our upgraded facilities, the Port of Tyne is poised to support this ambitions project and others of its kind, reaffirming our commitment to sustainable development and playing a vital role in the transition to clean energy. We’re excited to be part of such a significant endeavour that aligns with our mission to create a greener future for generations to come.”

Van Oord, an international marine contractor, owns and operates the vessel ‘Aeolus’ that carries out the work to install the foundations at the wind farm array on Dogger Bank. Following the successful construction of the Rampion, Humber Gateway, Robin Rigg and London Array wind farms, Sofia is the fifth major offshore wind project the company is delivering in collaboration with RWE.

The vessel and crew will deliver the installation of three foundations per cycle, with a transit time of up to 16 hours. The total duration of this campaign phase will depend on sea conditions, but all 100 foundations are expected to be installed by spring 2025.