RWE Selects Preferred Suppliers for Sofia Transmission System

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RWE has selected the preferred suppliers for its 1.4 GW Sofia Offshore Wind Farm’s high voltage direct current (HVDC) electrical transmission system.

A specially formed consortium of GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions and Sembcorp Marine is set to supply the system for Sofia, one of the world’s largest offshore wind farm projects, located on Dogger Bank, the shallow area of the central North Sea, 195 km from the U.K. coast’s nearest point.

RWE is the U.K.’s second-largest generator of electricity. Via its subsidiary, RWE Renewables, the company has significant experience in the British offshore market with nine wind farms in operation off the U.K. coast. Further offshore development projects, like Sofia – 100% owned by RWE – underline the growth ambitions of the company.

“We are keen to support the growth of both onshore and offshore wind energy in U.K., one of our core markets in Europe,” says Sven Utermöhlen, COO of global offshore wind at RWE Renewables.

“The choice of GE’s Grid Solutions and Sembcorp Marine for the supply of the electrical system is an important statement of our commitment to grow our renewables portfolio in the U.K. and reflects our ambition to strive for continuous innovation in the development, construction and operation of our offshore wind farms,” he adds.

As the consortium leader, GE’s Grid Solutions will be responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of two HVDC converter stations capable of transmitting 1,400 MW of power at 320 kV. Innovative converter modules and a new high-tech control system have been deployed at Sofia. It will be the most powerful offshore converter station ever fabricated and will be installed at a point 220 km from shore – so will also be the most remote.

The selection of the consortium is positive news for the U.K. as a significant element of all the primary HVDC equipment will be manufactured and fabricated at GE’s Grid Solutions’ Stafford facilities, which employ more than 1,000 workers.

The project will be based on GE Grid‘s latest technology, utilizing its second-generation voltage source converter valve and featuring the first application of its eLumina HVDC Control System. eLumina is the industry’s first HVDC solution to use a digital measurement system fully based on International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850, an important international standard defining communication protocols for intelligent electronic devices at electrical substations.

The offshore converter platform will be built and installed by Sembcorp Marine. The onshore converter station will convert the electricity generated by the wind farm to 400 kV, before it enters the national grid.

GE’s Grid Solutions and Sembcorp Marine are starting early design works with the full contract subject to the project’s final investment decision due in the first quarter of 2021. The HVDC transmission system represents Sofia’s second largest contract and will include the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of the offshore converter platform and the onshore converter station, including all ancillary equipment.

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

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