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The Port of Rotterdam has made major progress in the construction of a reclaimed island in its efforts to attract one of five new major windfarm projects planned off the Dutch Coast. These new offshore windfarms will be among the largest in the world, so plenty of space will be needed for offshore service providers. Offshore center Rotterdam has the space.

The finished facility will include 1600 meters of deep water, heavy duty quay walls, and reinforced foundations for the construction, assembly, storage, repair, and maintenance of offshore equipment. The first section of the reclaiming work is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.

The Dutch government has a goal of providing 16% of the country’s energy demands via renewable sources by 2023, up from 5.8% in 2015. The Port of Rotterdam aims to be a player in that growth and the recent opening of offshore foundation specialist Sif Group’s production center for its Monopile Division, on the 42-hectare site at Maasvlakte 2, illustrates how fast progress is being made.

Offshore wind ambitions

“Where there’s a will and ambitions coincide, major steps can be made in a short time,” says Jan Bruggenthijs, CEO of Sif Group. “It was important for Sif Group to have a manufacturing, storage and transshipment terminal close to the North Sea - after all, that is where the wind parks that we make the foundation piles for are springing up.”

Joost Eenhuizen of the Port Authority adds: “The Port Authority really wanted to get a foot in the door of the wind and other offshore industries; a key market for growth now that renewable energy sources are increasingly taking over from fossil fuels. And then things could start to move extremely quickly.”

Sif Group Moves Fast

In 2015, Sif Group, the market leader in the manufacture of foundation piles for offshore wind turbines, was on the lookout for a new production site. The required specifications: close to the North Sea to assemble the increasingly large foundation piles, also known as monopiles, and load them directly on-board sea-going vessels. One year saw the emergence of a coating hall and assembly hall measuring 500 x 50 meters, where Sif assembles foundation piles of 80 meters in length and 11 meters in diameter. The first piles were completed in September 2016.

In January 2017, the first section of the Sif Group’s quay was completed in the Port of Rotterdam and the Innovation was the first vessel to moor there, ready for loading the first monopiles. It was a remarkable moment, especially because it had only been two years since Sif Group and the Port of Rotterdam Authority sat down at the discussion table together.

Architectural masterpiece

Due to the type of vessels that are moored here, the Sif quays are the deepest in the whole port. The Port Authority constructed a 400-metre long deep-sea quay for the handling of the enormous structures. It is an architectural masterpiece because this quay has to cope with the gigantic weight of both the monopiles on it and the offshore working vessels berthed along it. At 30 meters, the retaining height of Sif’s quay is the greatest in the whole port. The entire Sif factory premises went into operation in the summer of 2017.

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