The University of Maine (UMaine)-led consortium behind the planned 12 MW Aqua Ventus offshore wind pilot project has finalized a $3.8 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Aqua Ventus was one of seven U.S. offshore wind projects to receive $4 million in DOE funding in 2012, but the department did not choose the pilot as one of three projects to win a $47 million follow-up grant in May. The DOE did, however, say it would issue UMaine a smaller cooperative research grant to continue the design and engineering work of the 6 MW VolturnUS floating turbine.
A DOE representative signed the new grant on Sept. 5 during an event celebrating the yearlong deployment of a small-scale version of the VolturnUS machine off the coast of Castine, Maine. VolturnUS 1:8, a one-eighth-scale model with more than 50 sensors on board, became the first grid-connected offshore turbine deployed in the Americas in June 2013. The project brought together more than 30 organizations as part of the UMaine-led DeepCwind Consortium.
At the celebration event, U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, commented, "Today's investment by the Department of Energy is another milestone in [the project's] progress and is a renewed recognition of the excellent work done by so many across Maine who will continue to strive to secure a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy future through VolturnUS."
According to UMaine, the VolturnUS 1:8 notably withstood 18 severe storms equivalent to 50-year storms and one 500-year storm since it was deployed.
Habib Dagher, director of UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said, "The success of the VolturnUS 1:8 test project deployed off Castine is a critical milestone on our path to allow us to economically harness the enormous wind power far offshore the U.S."