The University of Maine Collaborates on Floating Offshore Wind Project

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The University of Maine says it will collaborate with New England Aqua Ventus LLC (NEAV), a joint venture between Diamond Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corp., and RWE Renewables, the second-largest company in offshore wind globally, to develop UMaine’s floating offshore wind technology demonstration project off the state’s coast.

As the developer, NEAV will own and manage all aspects of permitting, construction and assembly, deployment and ongoing operations for the project. UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center will continue with design and engineering, research and development, and post-construction monitoring.

The project will consist of a single semisubmersible concrete floating platform that will support a commercial 10-12 MW wind turbine and will be deployed in a state-designated area 2 miles south of Monhegan Island and 14 miles from the Maine coast. The purpose of the demonstration project is to further evaluate the floating technology, monitor environmental factors and develop best practices for offshore wind to coexist with traditional marine activities. It will supply clean, renewable electricity to the Maine grid.

Construction, following all permitting, is expected to be completed in 2023.

An immediate priority for the new development team is to engage with the fishing industry, other maritime users, coastal communities and other interested parties on how to ensure this new renewable energy source can optimally provide economic growth to Maine and work with maritime industries.

Since 2008, the University of Maine has researched floating offshore wind technology as a solution to Maine’s overdependence on imported fossil fuels. After winning funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the university worked with Maine-based construction firm Cianbro to build and deploy the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in the U.S. in 2013, a one-eighth scale prototype of its VolturnUS floating hull technology.

The success of the project led to additional funding from the DOE to further advance the VolturnUS technology, which has been issued 43 patents to date. The university and Cianbro sought to partner with an offshore wind developer to further demonstrate this technology on a commercial scale. UMaine will continue to own its VolturnUS floating hull intellectual property and license it to NEAV for this project.

Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables, with years of collective offshore energy experience and success, will invest $100 million to build the project and help demonstrate the technology at full scale. Combined, the two new partners are responsible for nearly a quarter of the world’s offshore wind capacity.

The project is projected to produce more than $150 million in total economic output and create hundreds of Maine-based jobs during the construction period.

Photo: NEAV’s landing page

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