University of Maine wins first stage of floating offshore wind demonstration competition

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The university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Centre has won the first round of a potential $93.2 million deepwater offshore wind demonstration project
University of Maine wins first stage of floating offshore wind demonstration competition

The competition for the project was organised by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the UMaine Composites Centre is one of five awardees chosen from over 70 competing proposals. The initial phase will allocate up to $4 million to each project in order to complete the engineering, design and permitting phase of the award. A year forward the DOE will select three of the five projects for follow-on phases concerned with siting, construction and installation. The overall aim is to achieve commercial operation by 2017.

“We are pleased that the DOE has selected our team’s program after a rigorous technical review” said Dr. Habib Dagher, P.E., director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center and principal investigator for the project. “This R&D program could be transformational for our state, and will help us demonstrate a unique, patent-pending floating wind turbine technology called VolturnUS.”

The project is known as Aqua Ventus I and will be a 12MW demonstration wind park using the VolturnUS floating platform technology developed at UMaine over the last four years. It builds on the success of the DeepCwind Consortium Research Program which was similarly spearheaded by the UMain Composites Centre and industry partners, funded by DOE, the National Science Foundation-Partnerships for Innovation and the Maine Technology Institute, among others. A 1:8-scale VolturnUS floating platform will be deployed by UMaine researchers at the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site near Monhegan Island, Maine.

UMaine’s Composites Center has entered into a partnership with industry leaders who will collectively invest over $40 million in the project. This will help to de-risk the VolturnUS floating platform in order to generate more private capital for the construction of larger commercial wind farms.

“The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, “and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable. Today’s announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diverse domestic energy portfolio that develops every source of American energy.”

The advantage of deepwater floating offshore wind farms is that they can potentially harness stronger and more consistent wind resources located beyond the reach of traditional fixed-foundation platforms while being out of sight from the shore. The Gulf of Maine alone has a 156.6 GW offshore wind potential, the majority of which is in deepwater. The state is aiming to construct around 5,000MW of floating farms by 2030, attracting $20 billion of private capital to the state and creating thousands of jobs.


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