The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center the first phase of a potential $93.2 million grant to develop an offshore floating wind demonstration project. The demonstration project will de-risk the UMaine’s VolturnUS floating platform so that more private capital can flow in to Maine to build larger commercial farms.
During the first phase, awarded $4 million, the engineering, design and permitting will be completed. The next year, DOE will select up to three of the offshore projects that received awards, for follow-up funding. During this phase, the focus will be on siting, construction and installation with the goal of commercial operation by 2017. The UMaine Composites Center’s partners have pledged nearly $40 million in additional funds for the project.
“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 program, known as “Aqua Ventus I,” will be a 12 MW demonstration wind park using the VolturnUS floating platform technology developed at the UMaine Composites Center over the last four years. This project builds on the success of the DeepCwind Consortium Research Program, spearheaded by UMaine Composites Center and its industry partners. In spring 2013, 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.
According to UMaine, deepwater floating offshore wind farms could harness stronger and more consistent winds than traditional fixed-foundation offshore wind turbines. This type of wind turbine would also be out of sight of the shore, alleviating esthetic concerns.
The Gulf of Maine has 156.6 GW of offshore wind potential, the majority of which is in deepwater. Maine has a plan to build a 5,000 MW network of floating farms by 2030, which would attract $20 billion of private capital to our state, and create thousands of jobs.