Sofia kicks off site investigations


Site investigations at the 1.4 GW
Sofia offshore wind farm are underway. The six-month survey kicked of this week with multi-purpose vessel Fugro Pioneer departing the Port of Sunderland, to survey the project’s export cable corridor.

Over the next six months, geophysical and geotechnical surveys will take place along the cable route, from just off Teesside to the wind farm site on Dogger Bank, in the North Sea. The surveys will provide the consent and engineering teams with key data about seabed and marine conditions.

The wind farm, being developed by innogy, is the company’s largest to date, at 1.4 GW. This will also make it one of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms when it is commissioned.

Fugro Pioneer has a 53.68m LOA and a transit speed of 10 knots. It will focus on geophysical surveys and will be deployed at sea for up to a month, carrying team members from both Sofia and Fugro. A local guard vessel will support the campaign. Cable route geotechnical surveys are due to start in March; these will also take up to a month, and will consist of cone penetration tests and vibrocores. They will be conducted from the 98m vessel
Despina. The full site investigation is expected to be concluded by August this year.

Damien Gensome, innogy’s Senior Project Manager for Sofia, said: “This initial suite of surveys will cover a variable corridor of around 175 metres wide, and will include environmental grab samples, drop down video transects, sub-bottom seismic profiling, side-scan sonar, bathymetry and magnetometer surveys.”

He added: “Together the information collected will be analysed to build up a comprehensive picture of the seafloor and sub seafloor conditions, informing the need for further surveys, the final cable route, the landfall location and the most appropriate cable installation methodologies.

“Given that Sofia’s 600km2 array site is 195 kilometres from the coast of the North East of England, and the export cable will be 220 kilometres long, we believe this is the longest such cable route survey ever undertaken for an offshore wind farm.”

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