Electricity generation company, RWE, has signed up the Port of Blyth as an Offshore Construction Base for its 1.4 gigawatts (GW) Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, one of the world’s largest offshore wind projects.
Commissioned in December 2000, Blyth was home to the UK’s first offshore wind turbine pilot project, operated at the time by E.ON Climate and Renewables, whose activities have since become part of RWE. Turning full circle, Blyth will now be central to managing the offshore construction activities of RWE’s most modern and cutting-edge offshore wind farm, Sofia, located 195 kilometres off the UK coast on Dogger Bank, and which is progressing well with onshore works.
The new-build Offshore Construction Base will be located at the Port of Blyth’s recently redeveloped Bates Clean Energy Terminal, and will become the management centre for the RWE project’s vessels and logistics throughout the offshore construction phase in 2024. It will be managed and maintained by Port of Blyth in support of the project throughout the three-and-a-half years’ construction period.
“Choosing the base for Sofia’s offshore construction has been a key decision as it will be home to the team for more than three years and will play a vital role in the successful completion of the project,” said Matthew Swanwick, RWE project director of Sofia. “The Port of Blyth offers us not only a strategic location and access to a strong marine supply chain but also an impressive new facility that will also ensure a legacy beyond the project.”
Supporting around-the-clock activities and with immediate and easy marine access, the Sofia Offshore Construction Base will have direct access to the port’s wide range of services as well as the redeveloped terminal’s heavy lift quay. Following the completion of the base in March 2023, a state-of-the-art Service Operations Vessel (SOV) will visit the port once every three weeks, during which time there will be a full day of crew transfers and restocking of the vessels. SOVs provide a floating home for offshore construction teams for up to three weeks at a time, ensuring experts are continually available, on site, improving efficiency of project delivery.
Once construction is finished, RWE will operate the wind farm from its Grimsby Hub, which is being expanded at its base on Royal Dock, Grimsby. However, the buildings will not go to waste and will be retained by the port for future use.