Construction of one the UK’s largest offshore wind projects to-date, the 1.4GW Sofia under development by utility RWE, has kicked off in Teesside, in the northeast of England.

Preparation of the site of the giant sea-based development’s onshore high-voltage direct current converter station, slated to be built by GE’s Grid Solutions starting early next, is now underway in the hands of contractor Jones Bros Civil Engineering.

Sven Utermöhlen, RWE Renewables’ global offshore wind COO, said: “Achieving this start-of-construction milestone is a fantastic tribute to the 11 years’ hard work and collaboration from everyone involved, including our suppliers and stakeholders.

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

The £3bn ($4.1bn) project, being built around 14MW Siemens Gamesa turbines on acreage some 200km of the UK coast, is expected to see offshore works start in 2023, with the project online in late 2026.

“By installing next generation wind turbines and the most advanced balance of plant technology so far offshore, we will also gain valuable insights to deploy on our new projects,” noted Utermöhlen, pointing to two adjacent sites on in the Dogger Bank South area that the developer was recently awarded by UK seabed landlord The Crown Estate.”

Originally one of four Dogger Bank area developments granted consent orders in August 2015, Sofia won a Contract for Difference (CfD) award after bidding at a world-record low strike price of £39.65/MWh ($48.8/MWh) in the UK’s third CfD auction in 2019.

Along with Sofia, RWE’s UK offshore portfolio encompasses the operational 857MW Triton Knoll wind farm, as well as four extension projects in the UK with a combined capacity of around 2.6GW. The developer successfully bid for two new sites adjacent to Sofia on Dogger Bank, totalling 3GW of capacity, in the UK Crown Estate’s recent Round 4 leasing auction.