A specially formed consortium of GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions and Sembcorp Marine has been awarded the full contract to supply a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system for Sofia, one of the world’s largest offshore wind farm projects. 

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 set to begin onshore at its Teesside converter station site this year – with offshore construction expected to get underway in 2023. Teesside, designed to serve the offshore wind potential of the North Sea, will also be the future home of GE Renewable Energy’s new blade manufacturing plant.

GE’s Grid Solutions will be leading the consortium for the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of the system’s two HVDC converter stations capable of transmitting 1,320 MW of power at 320 kV. The offshore converter station will be installed 220 kilometers from shore – which will make it the most remote. A significant percentage of all the primary HVDC equipment will be manufactured at GE’s Grid Solutions’ Stafford facilities in the West Midlands, which employ more than 1,000 workers.

“Sembcorp Marine is excited to work on this mega-project with GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions to support RWE Renewables’ Sofia Offshore Wind Farm project to augment its supply of wind energy in the U.K.,” says Samuel Wong, head of offshore platforms at Sembcorp Marine. “We are grateful to RWE for its vote of confidence in Sembcorp Marine’s capabilities and track record of delivering offshore platforms to major field developments in Europe and Asia.”

The project will be based on GE Grid‘s latest HVDC technology, which utilizes its second-generation voltage source convertor valve. It will feature the first application of its state-of-the-art eLumina HVDC Control System. GE says 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.

Construction of the offshore converter platform will start this year and will be designed, built, installed and commissioned by Sembcorp Marine. Located at the center of the wind farm, it will comprise a 17,000-ton topside and a jacket foundation structure piled into the seabed. The onshore converter station will convert the electricity generated by the wind farm to 400 kV AC before it enters the U.K. national grid.

Photo: Computer generated image of the Sofia offshore wind farm

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