As the latest phase of onshore construction of RWE’s Sofia Offshore Wind Farm gets underway, two of its key suppliers have given Tees Valley businesses an insight into local contracting opportunities with the project, a £3 billion investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure.
Construction of Sofia’s onshore converter station, sited adjacent to Wilton International near Lazenby, is set to begin this month along with the civil engineering works for the 7km cable that will carry electricity from the coast to the converter station.
To coincide with this new stage of activity, the two contractors delivering the works, Kier Infrastructure and J. Murphy & Sons, addressed around 200 local business representatives at an event highlighting the contracting and other opportunities.
Working with Sofia’s electrical transmission system contractor, GE’s Grid Solutions, Kier Infrastructure will have a team of around 150 personnel on the Teesside site to construct this key component of the wind farm.
For the onshore cable scope, J. Murphy & Sons is underway with site investigations, fencing and preparatory works on behalf of both Sofia and adjacent development Dogger Bank C, two separate offshore wind projects cooperating closely due to their adjacent locations.
Opportunities to support the two contractors as well as other work packages on Sofia were highlighted at the event, which was held at the Kirkleatham Walled Garden in Redcar.
Hosted by Tees Engineering Network, and organised by NOF and Energi Coast, the event was part of Sofia’s commitment to ensure Tees Valley companies are aware of the ways they could contribute to the successful construction of the 1.4GW offshore wind farm, located on Dogger Bank in the central North Sea.
RWE’s Graham Wright, Sofia Supply Chain Plan Manager, said: “Building a robust supply chain is vital to Sofia’s successful delivery. With the start of the works being delivered by Kier Infrastructure and J. Murphy & Sons, this event was an ideal way to further strengthen our links with Tees Valley businesses and introduce them to two of our key contractors.”
“With almost four years of construction activity, and hundreds of people at work on the converter station and cable route sites, the project will create a wide range of opportunities for local suppliers and a boost to the local economy.”
Jamie Brown, CEO of Francis Brown Ltd, NOF board director and representing Tees Engineering Network, said: “Tees Valley has an exceptional supply chain cluster with experience and expertise across the energy, industrial and engineering-based sectors, which can contribute to landmark projects such as Sofia.
“The excellent turnout for this event highlights the desire for Tees Valley businesses to get back to face-to-face networking after the pandemic and, importantly, demonstrates their ambition to support this important renewable energy development.”
Ron Cumine, Project Director with Kier Infrastructure said: “We plan to utilise both local and regional resources on Sofia and intend to leverage this innovative project to build strong long-term relationships into the future.”
Scott Marsden, Project Manager, J. Murphy & Sons said: “This was such a great event and way to meet potential local supply chain partners. We are truly committed to developing local supply chain relationships to help us successfully deliver our scope and have already appointed local firm Eco-Drill for a key package.”
Joanne Leng MBE, chief executive of NOF, said: “This region has a tremendous track record in the offshore wind industry and is able to leverage its industrial and maritime expertise to form an integrated supply chain across the energy sectors, which can help deliver our collective net zero targets.
“Through this event, and the activity that’s taking place across the Tees Valley and wider North East, we can see how the region is becoming a key hub for offshore wind with its cluster of skilled, experienced and innovative companies that can deliver on projects here in the UK and around the world.”