USA: UMaine Wins 1st Phase of Deepwater Floating Offshore Wind Demonstration Project

USA: UMaine Wins 1st Phase of Deepwater Floating Offshore Wind Demonstration Project

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has been awarded the first phase of a potential $93.2 million deepwater offshore wind demonstration project by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The UMaine Composites Center-led team of industry leaders and national laboratories is one of five awardees selected from over 70 competing proposals.

In this initial phase, each project will receive up to $4 million to complete the engineering, design and permitting phase of this award. In a year, DOE will select up to three of these projects for follow-on phases that focus on siting, construction and installation, and aim to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will receive up to $47 million each over four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

“We are pleased that the DOE has selected our team’s program after a rigorous technical review,” says 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” and announced by DOE and Sen. Susan Collins, 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, and funded by DOE, 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 in spring 2013 at the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site near Monhegan Island, Maine.

“Senator Collins has been at the forefront in supporting this effort,” says Dagher. “She saw what we saw – a project with potential to generate vast amounts of clean energy and to create good jobs and spark economic development – and she was key to making it happen.”

UMaine’s Composites Center is partnered with industry leaders who collectively will invest over $40 million in the 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.

“The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “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.”

Deepwater floating offshore wind farms could harness stronger and more consistent winds located beyond the reach of traditional fixed-foundation offshore turbines, while being out of the line of sight from shore. 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.

“The work of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center features a remarkable blend of student and faculty researchers, as well as public and private partners who characterize the University of Maine as a leading 21st-century research university,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. 


Press release, January 31, 2013; Image: Advanced Structures and Composites Center