Sif chief executive Fred van Beers says the company is undertaking an in-depth research effort to prepare for the production of new-generation monopile foundations for offshore wind turbines of more than 14-MW
In the company’s newly-published annual report for 2020, Mr van Beers said 2020 was a game-changing year for the company, with an increased sense of urgency worldwide “to rapidly reduce the global CO2 footprint.”
“Europe took a bold step by committing to its Green Deal. Many countries in Asia have placed renewable energy higher up the agenda. The change of leadership following the 2020 elections in the US has resulted in a firm commitment to invest in renewable energy,” Mr van Beers said.
Mr van Beers said despite the challenges associated with the introduction of much larger, next-generation wind turbines from GE, Vestas and Siemens Gamesa, all in the 14-16-MW range, “monopiles will remain the foundation of choice.” This will inevitably lead to demand for larger-diameter monopiles, he said.
To address the many challenges involved in developing large-diameter monopiles for 14-MW + turbines, in late 2020, Sif launched what Mr van Beers described as a “fundamental research project” to ascertain what the future design and production footprint of Sif should be.
“Recent projects have strengthened our belief that combining design and production engineering provides benefits,” he said, noting that the intended acquisition by Sif of KCI the engineers will give the company a “strong knowledge base” of design engineering competence with regard to the structural aspects of bottom-fixed foundations and substations, and future alternatives such as floating foundations.
“Combining design and production engineering will also help us optimise the present and next-generation monopiles needed for the 14-MW + platforms now offered to the market,” he said. “Past investments in increasing diameters have taught us we cannot automatically assume that a further increase in diameter can be achieved in an economically viable manner.
“The dimensions and loads currently incurred by our production and logistics equipment have become excessive and come at a serious cost. This is why, with the assistance of external experts on production and process technology, we are undertaking this extensive research project.
“Pending the outcome and conclusions, expected in Q2 2021, we have maintained our focus on producing monopiles of up to 9 m in diameter. With an orderbook until mid-2023 for monopiles and transition pieces of less than 9 m diameter, we have created sufficient leeway to thoroughly study the results of the research project and take the necessary action to prepare for larger diameters.”
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