Maine Joins National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium

Maine has joined the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC), a non-profit public-private alliance that is dedicated to responsible, cost-effective offshore wind energy and technology research in the United States.

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As a member of the consortium, Maine will have access to innovation, research, and added resources for its offshore wind program, which will allow the state to benefit from experiences elsewhere in the country, while also sharing insights and information garnered from offshore wind research in Maine.

Maine’s membership in the consortium includes GEO and the University of Maine, a leading center of technology and innovation in floating offshore wind.

”The University of Maine is very pleased to support the state as it strengthens important research ties nationally and internationally on floating offshore wind,” said Habib Dagher, Executive Director of Advanced Structures and Composite Center at the University of Maine.

”Our ongoing project with the NOWRDC on synthetic mooring systems is an example of a collaboration that can help reduce impact on fisheries. We look forward to more such collaborations through this new membership.”

Funding for NOWRDC includes USD 18.5 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) provided through and matched by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, as well as contributions from the states of Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

As a leader in research on floating offshore wind, Maine’s participation in the Consortium adds critical perspective and an opportunity for valuable collaboration with other national research efforts, said Carrie Cullen Hitt, Executive Director of the NOWRDC.

A recent report by the Governor’s Energy Office has found that offshore wind energy has the long-term potential to meet Maine’s renewable energy targets.

In 2020, the Governor’s Energy Office received a USD 2.16 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency to manage a multi-year planning process to develop a “roadmap” for the offshore wind industry in Maine. This process is expected to begin this spring.

As part of the roadmap, the governor announced in November that Maine would pursue the country’s first research lease for a floating offshore wind array, to be located in federal waters of the Gulf of Maine. With some of the highest sustained wind speeds in the world, the Gulf of Maine is viewed a likely area to be targeted for offshore wind energy.

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Pursuing the research array is a prudent, proactive approach by the state in order to work with stakeholders to responsibly determine the direction of offshore wind energy in the federal waters of the Gulf of Maine, the Governor’s Energy Office said.

To emphasize this approach, Governor Mills has announced her intention to submit legislation calling for a 10-year moratorium on new offshore wind projects in state-managed waters, which extend three miles from shore, and where the majority of Maine’s commercial fishing takes place.

The Governor’s Energy Office has scheduled a series of upcoming virtual work sessions about the research array project.

In addition to the national research consortium, Maine has also forged regional and global partnerships about offshore wind. The State remains an active member of the Gulf of Maine Task Force assembled by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) alongside the states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

In late 2020, Maine signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom, which calls for collaborative research and knowledge sharing about responsible offshore wind development between the State and country.