Blade plant boost as Sofia opts for Siemens Gamesa 14MW turbines

The first European project to take the next generation Siemens Gamesa offshore wind turbine will sit off the North Yorkshire coast.

Sofia, part of the Dogger Bank Zone, is being brought forward by Innogy – and developers have opted for the turbine, only revealed last month.

It is seen as a huge boost to the Hull blade plant, where bosses have told they stand ready to shift up a size.

Siemens’ strong commitment to a UK supply chain is highlighted by those involved in the deal.

A preferred supplier agreement has now been signed for the SG 14-222 DD offshore wind turbine, a 14 MW design that is 25 per cent more powerful than its next largest model.

Sofia sits 195 miles off the UK, and the production schedule for it, envisaged for 2024, is described as “right on time”.

Construction of the wind farm is due to begin onshore at its Teesside converter station site in early 2021, with offshore construction expected to get underway in 2023.

UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “The UK has invested more in offshore wind than any other country and is already home to the world’s largest offshore wind farms. Now the UK will be the first European nation to boast this cutting-edge turbine technology at Sofia Offshore Wind Farm.

“Offshore wind will play a vital role in a future net-zero UK economy, and already supplies 10 per cent of UK electricity demand – a figure we expect to double by the middle of the decade.”

The agreement includes the manufacture, installation and commissioning of a total of 100 turbines, each standing 262 metres tall, just 47 metres shorter than the UK’s tallest building, The Shard.

As well as potential blade production, it could see a pre-assembly role too for Hull, like Hornsea One and Hornsea Two, with towers and naceles batched together for delivery to the site.

Andy Sykes, plant manager told how Hull was “a great place to make it happen if required” at launch, with the factory already having scaled up from 75m to 81m since launch.

Sven Utermöhlen, senior vice president for renewables operations offshore at Innogy SE said: “The selection of these state-of-the-art offshore wind turbines for Sofia, our largest offshore wind development project, reflects our ambition to strive for continuous innovation. Siemens Gamesa’s towering 14 MW machine is a perfect match for our flagship Sofia project, together cementing offshore wind‘s central role in the world’s clean energy future. This turbine embodies the impressive technology we need to build our ground-breaking project, that is further from shore and more technically challenging than any of its predecessors.”

The SG 14-222 DD is a 14 MW platform featuring 108 metre carbon and fibreglass blades cast in a single mould and a 222 metre-diameter rotor sweeping an area of 39,000 sq m.

Andreas Nauen, Siemens Gamesa’s global chief executive said: “We’re delighted that Innogy has shown its confidence in our new machines and proven its commitment to creating a clean future with us now. In uncertain times, we are proud that Innogy is choosing machinery with a pedigree of being solid and reliable. As an economic recovery around the globe safely and slowly begins, we’re confident that offshore wind power will strongly contribute to providing jobs and energy stability at attractive prices.”

The selection has been described as “positive news for the UK as it will lead to significant opportunities for the UK supply chain”, Siemens Gamesa already having more than 2,000 UK employees. Virtually half of those are in Hull, with others based on specific wind farm projects in Grimsby. Established relationships with local supply chains were also flagged.

Richard Sandford, Innogy’s director of offshore investment and asset management, said: “We are pleased to now be the first in Europe to commit to using this superb engineering and technology. It is also to be noted that the company is a staunch supporter of the UK’s offshore wind sector, having shown impressive commitment to the development of its own facilities and to the local supply chain. This is of utmost importance to us as we work to support the sector deal commitments, particularly in relation to UK content.”

The 100 turbines could generate enough green electricity to supply almost 1.2 million UK homes with their annual electricity needs. At around 5.4 terawatt hours per annum that’s almost half of all the electricity used in the North East.

Final investment decision for the project is expected in the first quarter of 2021.


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