Why should Maine pursue offshore wind energy?

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In Maine, offshore wind energy represents our largest untapped natural energy resource, with more than 156 GW (1 gigawatt =1,000 megawatts) of potential energy waiting to be harnessed off the coast of Maine. The Gulf of Maine boasts a higher quality offshore wind resource than most parts of the U.S. Mainers currently use 2.4 GW (2,400 megawatts) of electricity each year, however, the Gulf of Maine is located very close to New England populations centers with high electrical demand.

In 2008, Governor John Baldacci established Maine Ocean Energy Task Force to recommend a strategy to develop the renewable ocean energy resources in the Gulf of Maine. Click here to view the Ocean Energy Task Force Final Report, published in December 2009. This report set Maine’s renewable ocean energy goals, including the installation of 5 GW (5,000 megawatts) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

Maine has the deepest waters near its shores, approximately 200 feet deep at 3 nautical miles, and 89% of Maine’s 156 GW offshore wind resource is in deep waters. The state also offers extensive maritime industry infrastructure and proximity to one of the largest energy markets in the country. Maine is an ideal state to lead deepwater offshore wind development.

For more than 10 years, the University of Maine has led the nation in developing an economical way to harness clean, renewable wind energy from our deep ocean waters. This has led to the development of UMaine’s patented VolturnUS floating concrete hull technology that can support wind turbines in water depths of 150 feet or more, and has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind.

In 2013, UMaine and its partners successfully deployed the VolturnUS 1:8, a 1/8th scale, 65 foot tall prototype that was the first grid-connected floating wind turbine in the Americas. Data collected during this deployment is being used to inform design and construction of two full-scale floating offshore wind turbines utilizing the VolturnUS platform technology.

Successfully harnessing offshore wind will contribute to the transformation of Maine’s energy sector to renewable sources, and keep our energy dollars in our state.

Click here to learn more about the University of Maine’s VolturnUS.