Maine, DOE Deploy Offshore Floating Wind Turbine Prototype
The University of Maine and its partners used a $12 million Department of Energy grant to design, develop and test the world’s first grid-connected, concrete-composite floating platform wind turbines that can tap wind resources within deeper waters in coastal areas. It was launched last week on Friday off the coast of Castine, Maine, the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) news reports.
Conventional turbine technology is not practical in deeper waters near the coasts where the bulk of wind resources exist, so the DOE’s goal was to develop innovative technology that could take advantage of the potential 4,000 GW of untapped offshore wind energy.
If this untapped energy is developed, it can support 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation, and supply chain jobs across the country and drive over $70 billion in annual investments by 2030, according to a Navigant report commissioned by the DOE.
It took the University of Maine and its project partners, the Maine Maritime Academy and Cianbro Corporation, 5 years to conduct extensive design, engineering, testing, construction and deployment of the 65-foot-tall VolturnUS floating turbine prototype. At one-eighth the scale of a commercial installation, this project will collect data to validate and improve floating wind turbine designs and tackle technical barriers to greater cost reductions for offshore wind energy.
The prototype uses advanced materials that lower the overall cost of the system while ensuring high performance and efficiency, EERE reports. The floating wind turbine has a semi-submersible platform that uses cheaper concrete foundation beneath a lighter weight composite tower.
As a separate project, the University of Maine is planning a larger offshore wind demonstration that is one of seven offshore wind design and engineering projects announced last year by the DOE.
Placing wind farms offshore will not prevent opposition from not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) groups, says Energy Manager Today guest columnist Al Maiorino, in a post last month, listing multiple offshore projects across the US that have been delayed by gridlock. Appropriate grassroots communications managed by experienced public affairs consultants can make the difference between interminable project delays and approvals.
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