UK: Aubin Launches GLS for Installation of Offshore Renewables Infrastructure

Aubin, a leading independent supplier of specialist chemicals to the energy industry, has launched a game-changing new product that could save millions of pounds when installing offshore renewables infrastructure.

The Gel Lift System (GLS), which can be seen in action at stand AB31 in the Aberdeen City & Shire Pavilion at All Energy 2011, offers the potential for significant cost savings and risk reduction in the critical installation phase of offshore renewables development.

The technology, which uses a novel low-density gel, can be used to install all types of offshore renewables including wind, wave and tidal. The gel which can be reused is non hazardous and environmentally responsible.

By reducing the specification and complexity of cranes and crane barges required during installation, GLS supports the use of more commonly available vessels generating savings typically in excess of £100,000 per day, thereby accelerating the uptake of renewable technology development in UK waters.

The ability to promptly install and commission any renewable system once manufactured, significantly reduces yard/storage space requirements and the level of upfront investment required from developers. Aubin believe this feature will allow more UK ports to be used for such installation projects.

Aubin, together with Aberdeen based engineering partner Ecosse Subsea, are currently developing installation techniques utilising GLS for offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies. Aubin’s GLS can support infrastructure weighing more than 1,000 tonnes and has an operational depth of 100 metres, making it suitable for most European locations identified for potential renewables developments.

Aubin managing director Paddy Collins said: “We believe that GLS will enable developers to take turbines out from shore as and when they are manufactured without having to have several units complete before any installation can take place.

With each turbine costing up to £5million and space at fabrication yards tight, it’s extremely beneficial to offer a system that means you can install as you build. It is also quick to market, as installers do not have to commit the investment to go out and buy a vessel or wait for one to become available. We have researched the market and believe there is nothing similar to GLS.’’

Aubin has worked with leading industry professionals on development work and feasibility testing. GLS is a spin-off from Aubin’s DeepBuoy product, used for lifting, supporting and lowering heavy subsea structures to a depth of 3,000m for the global deepwater oil & gas industry.

We learned so much from DeepBuoy that can be taken and applied to GLS, both products work using the Archimedes Principle, one of the oldest scientific discoveries. There is a big issue in the UK in that we don’t have lifting capability and we are offering a product which changes the boundaries of what is possible,’’ said Mr Collins.

GLS is also suitable for developing small field developments and decommissioning old infrastructure, such as the many smaller structures and subsea tie-backs in the Southern North Sea where it is not economically viable to rely on cranes.

Aubin Ltd is supported by the Carbon Trust Entrepreneurs Fast Track, which helps create step-change growth in the UK’s best low carbon technology businesses.

Aubin was established in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, in 1987 and has a team of 20 people. It designs researches, develops, manufactures and supplies high-quality chemical technology for a wide range of energy industry applications.

The company received SMART funding to develop the GLS technology from the Scottish Government scheme providing financial assistance to individuals and SMEs to help support commercially viable projects which represent a significant technological advance.

Source: Aubin, May 18, 2011.

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