Maine Zooms In on Floating Wind Research Array Site

The Maine Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) has identified a preferred site for the proposed floating offshore wind research array within a narrowed area of interest in the US federal waters in the Gulf of Maine.

The GEO has now invited comments on the preferred site, with the comment period open until 30 July, to inform the final siting decision which will be included in the federal lease application.

The lease application is the first step in a subsequent multi-year permitting process by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which includes further impact studies and opportunities for public input, according to the GEO.

The GEO has taken into account a number of factors, such as impacts on fisheries and wildlife, navigation, and costs before identifying the preferred site.

Earlier this month, the State of Maine officially prohibited new offshore wind projects in state waters and, under the same bill now enacted into law, established a research consortium to oversee and coordinate the research efforts on the array in federal waters.

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The floating wind research array is being proposed to be built by the state itself. Once all the necessary procedures are completed and documents are in place, the state will file an application for the project with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees renewable energy development in federal waters.

The research array, which will be located some 32 to 64 kilometres offshore, will comprise up to 12 turbines and have a capacity of up to 144 MW.

The project plans to use the innovative floating platform technology developed by the University of Maine in a public-private partnership with New England Aqua Ventus, a joint venture between Mitsubishi’s Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables.

Under a recently enacted bill LD 336, the State of Maine has authorised the Public Utilities Commission to negotiate a contract with a transmission and distribution utility to purchase up to 144 MW of energy from the proposed floating offshore wind research array.

Photo: State of Maine, Governor's Energy Office