Sofia and Newcastle University enter learning partnership

  • 11 August 2023

Newcastle University and RWE’s Sofia Offshore Wind Farm have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see them work together to support the growth of a skilled offshore wind workforce, support the expansion of the sector and drive innovation.

The under construction 1.4 gigawatt (GW) Sofia is located on a 593km2 site 195 kilometres from the North East coast on Dogger Bank in the North Sea. With a landfall in Teesside, between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea, an offshore construction facility at the Port of Blyth, and an operations and maintenance base in Grimsby, a local skilled workforce will be vital throughout its lifecycle.

Newcastle University is committed to working with local businesses on innovation and skills to help meet the region’s needs.

The MOU, formally signed Newcastle University’s Marine Station at Port of Blyth (10 August 2023), will build on the partners’ successful existing collaboration, which has included student dissertations; hands-on grid-related workshops; support of STEM careers awareness events and subject-specific guest lectures and seminars within Newcastle University programmes.

Sofia Senior Consents Manager, Kim Gauld-Clark signing the MOU on behalf of the project said: “We are pleased to formalise our collaboration with Newcastle University and look forward to continuing to work together on a wide range of student-focussed initiatives that will provide experience and insights into the expanding offshore wind sector and its many career paths.”

The agreement will see the University and offshore wind farm partner across a number of areas, including:

  • Widening awareness of offshore wind and Net Zero careers and providing education and skills activities related to sector’s skills needs to increase the diversity of the offshore wind workforce.
  • To widen the visibility of offshore wind as a career, the two organisations will use this strategic learning partnership to support activities across multiple academic Schools within the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering and beyond to benefit students on multiple programmes of study.
  • In addition to student interactions, the parties will explore research, innovation and enterprise activities.

Professor Stephanie Glendinning, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering at Newcastle University, said: "This partnership reflects our commitment to bridging academia and industry for mutual benefit. The collaboration with Sofia Offshore Wind Farm Limited, will go a long way towards helping us to equip our students with essential skills, promoting sustainable careers, and contributing to the region's economic prosperity.

“The collaboration highlights our commitment to be a leader in the development of clean and affordable energy to all.”

Newcastle University and Sofia are both active members of Energi Coast, the regional network for the offshore wind industry and its Skills Group.  - Skills Group - Energi Coast