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The University of Maine's (UMaine) Advanced Structures and Composites Center and its partners will launch a 1:8 scale model of its VolturnUS offshore wind turbine on May 31, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine to be deployed off the coast of North America.

The approximately 65-foot tall turbine prototype is one-eighth the scale of a 6 MW, 423-foot rotor diameter design. According to UMaine, it is the first floating turbine of its kind in the world, using advanced material systems with a unique floating hull and tower design. The program goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation with no subsidies.

Maine has 156 GW of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores and a plan to deploy 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030. The 5 GW plan could potentially attract $20 billion of private investment to the state, creating thousands of jobs, notes the university.

The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than five years of collaborative research and development conducted by the UMaine-led DeepCwind Consortium. The DeepCwind research program is a public-private partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation-Partners for Innovation, the Maine Technology Institute, the State of Maine, UMaine and more than 30 industry partners.

Data acquired during the 2013 deployments off Castine and Monhegan harbors will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS system.

The UMaine Composites Center has partnered with industry leaders to invest in a 12 MW, $96 million pilot farm. UMaine explains the prototype tests will help prepare it for a full launch in 2016.

The expected attendees include Maine’s congressional delegation, representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, and civic and business leaders.

To view the May 31 event live, click here.

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