EDF inks major deal to buy power from RWE’s Sofia offshore wind farm

Power purchase agreement means all 6.5TWh of electricity produced by North Sea project each year will be used to serve EDF’s UK customers

EDF has inked a major deal to directly buy all of the electricity generated at RWE’s 1.4GW Sofia offshore wind farm in the North Sea, in what the two energy giants claim is the largest renewable energy deals either of them have struck to date.

The 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) announced today will see French energy firm EDF offtake all of the 6.5 terwatt hours (TWh) of electricity produced each year by the Sofia project, which is set to be one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms when it begins generating power from 2025.

The amount procured under the PPA equates to almost half of the electricity used in the North East of England each year, or the equivalent power needs of over 1.2 million homes, and will be used to service EDF’s household and business energy supply customers, according to the firm.

Installation of the Sofia project, which is situated in the Dogger Bank region of the North Sea, is expected to begin in 2023, with power generation set to begin 2025 before full operations start in 2026.

The wind farm will consist of 100 turbines each standing at 252 metres tall, stretching across a 593 square foot area of sea, which equates to around the same size of the Isle of Man, the two companies said.

Once operational, they estimate the Sofia wind farm could save more than 2.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year by replacing fossil fuel energy sources.

Philippe Commaret, EDF’s managing director for customers, hailed the agreement as “a major milestone in our progress towards achieving net zero”, which he said would support the government’s ambition to grow the UK’s offshore wind capacity to 40GW by 2030.

“We are focused on working with partners like RWE to furnish the grid with the scale of renewable energy that it so desperately needs,” he said. “This is exciting news for our customers and will also set a precedent for the UK’s energy industry – delivering large scale, practical solutions on the road to net zero.”

The PPA comes hot on the heels of Germany energy giant RWE’s recently announced €50bn plan to deliver 50GW of renewable energy capacity worldwide by the end of the decade.

The company is currently constructing both the Sofia and Tritok Knoll offshore wind farms in UK waters, which when completed will bring RWE’s current UK portfolio to nine offshore wind farms in total. The firm is also eyeing further projects through future seabed lease auctions from The Crown Estate.

Sven Utermöhlen, RWE Renewables’s CEO for offshore wind, said the UK would play a key role in the firm’s strategy to grow its renewables business and become carbon neutral by 2040.

“Sofia will be one of the largest single offshore wind farms in the world once constructed, the signing of the PPA with EDF demonstrates our ability to support electricity suppliers in providing CO2-free power to their customers,” he said.