May 12 (SeeNews) - Netherlands-based firm Sif Holding (AMS:SIFG) today started trading on Euronext Amsterdam after a EUR-112-million (USD 128m) initial public offering (IPO).

The company manufactures customised tubular structures used as foundation components in offshore wind and offshore oil and gas projects, predominantly in the greater North Sea region. It supplied the 400-MW Dudgeon wind farm in UK waters, among other projects. 

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Statoil’s long-awaited Hywind Scotland, the 30 MW floating wind farm at Buchan Deep, 25 km offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is ready to go.

Offshore wind was initially developed in a unique geography. The North Sea is unusually shallow and sandy for more than 12 miles out from shore.

“You have water that ranges from 15 to 25 meters in a very, very large area, so you could actually make these fixed foundations very efficient,” she said.

While these shallows are where the world’s offshore wind industry was born; now China, Japan, and the US are just starting to develop their offshore wind.

These potential new markets for offshore wind have water too deep for fixed foundations.

Globally, the deeper water offshore wind potential is huge. The technical potential to supply the US, for example, is nearly 17,000 TW, more than all the electricity it currently uses

With cooler air, fewer space constraints, and stronger winds, and even with additional space for more wind farms, all offshore wind makes it possible to more fully exploit the world’s wind potential. NIMBYism also makes further-out wind farms a safer bet by reducing the financial risk of delay, but the further out offshore wind goes, the deeper the water tends to be.

For all these reasons, floating foundations represent the future of offshore wind.

The 30 MW-turbine Hywind Scotland wind farm will be arrayed at water depths ranging from 95 meters to 120 meters, like the deeper water typically found outside the North Sea.

The design concept for each of Statoil’s five Hywind floating turbine holders has the elegant simplicity of a needle: floating improbably upright.

This utterly simple floating foundation makes installation absolutely minimal. Once in the water, the cylinder is slowly ballasted with water and rocks from the bottom to upright itself, and then can be easily towed out with the use of just small barges. This is revolutionary.

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CIVIL engineering methods pioneered in Western Australia are helping to accelerate the shift to renewable energy production in Europe.

Booragoon resident and UWA Head of Civil, Environmental,  and Mining Engineering Barry Lehane has spent more than three decades researching and designing foundations for offshore oil and gas facilities.

With a growing global emphasis on renewable energy sources in the face of climate change, Professor Lehane’s design methods are now increasingly being applied to offshore wind turbines.

“Since the resource boom took off there has been a lot of work done here in WA around designing foundations and infrastructure for projects like Gorgon, Wheatstone a and Ichthys,” Prof Lehane said.

“One of the design methods used, UWA-05, has evolved from our research at the university and is now used in all international standards.

“The big differentiator between onshore and offshore projects is that offshore is far more expensive. Some vessels used to install offshore foundations cost about $1 million a day so striving for efficiency was the focus of the research.

“Our research has saved the oil and gas companies a lot of money because it has resulted in a reduction in both the size of the foundations and the probability of any failures.”

Prof Lehane recently returned from a trip to England where he helped oversee experimental research into the performance of the wind turbine foundations when constructed in chalk, which is common in the southern North Sea.

“Wind farms are taking off massively and there are huge plans to have transition  towards a more sustainable energy supply,” he said.

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