German renewable energy company RWE has commenced construction works at its 1.4GW Sofia offshore wind farm in the North Sea, off the east coast of Yorkshire, England.

The company will install essential subsea cable infrastructure between the wind farm site on Dogger Bank in the central North Sea, and the UK’s north-east coast.

It has contracted Prysmian’s high-tech Leonardo da Vinci vessel to lay the first section of high voltage direct current (HVDC) export cable.

The proposed subsea cable infrastructure would transport green electricity from the wind farm back to the UK coast, introducing it into the UK transmission network.

RWE said that the Sofia wind farm, which represents more than £3bn investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure, will make a significant contribution towards the UK’s net-zero targets.

RWE Offshore Wind CEO Sven Utermöhlen said: “Sofia is RWE’s largest renewable construction project to date, and its furthest from shore. The project is setting new standards in terms of addressing innovation, sustainability, and engineering challenges.

“The laying of the first section of export cable represents the culmination of 13 years of planning, preparation, and diligence, as well as a huge amount of support from suppliers and stakeholders alike.

“Building a project of this size and scale is a great opportunity to demonstrate our expertise in delivering offshore wind energy around the globe.”

Sofia offshore wind farm will have a single offshore converter platform, with the electricity generated transported to landfall 220km away in Redcar, Teesside.

The facility will use 100 Siemens Gamesa’s advanced 14MW SG 14-222 DD model offshore wind turbines, of which 44 will be equipped with recyclable blades.

Upon its completion by the end of 2026, the Sofia project is expected to generate adequate clean electricity to power the equivalent of more than 1.2 million regular UK homes.

RWE will carry out the operations and maintenance activities for the wind farm from its new offshore wind operations base, dubbed Grimsby Hub.

Grimsby Hub will also support Triton Knoll offshore wind farm and other projects in future.

RWE UK country chair Tom Glover said: “RWE has 10 offshore wind farms already operating around the UK and is a leading partner in the generation of clean energy that will help ensure the security of electricity supply.

“This major construction milestone at Sofia further demonstrates our enviable expertise in offshore wind, which has been pioneered over 20 years in the UK. And the UK remains of significant strategic importance to RWE.

“We are continuing to drive our ambition to grow green through a strong future development pipeline, which will play a key role in delivering our own and the country’s future net zero ambitions.”

Prysmian’s vessel will lay two 130km sections of cable in parallel, starting from just off the Teesside coast between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea.

The Leonardo da Vinci vessel will then move away from the coast, laying the full length of cable along its pre-defined route towards the offshore wind farm.

It will install the two remaining 90km sections of marine export cable in 2024, said RWE.