Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Maine Aqua Ventus and its New England Aqua Ventus I project. FAQs are organized into categories. Users can click on a category header and FAQs will appear in a list beneath them.

To submit a question for consideration, please visit this page.

 


Electrical and Cable

Under state statute, as administered by the Department of Marine Resources, the existing charted cable way prohibits mobile gear activities like trawling and dragging (Maine DMR statute Title 12, Part 9, Subpart 2, Chapter 627 §6954). Fixed gear, like lobster traps, are allowed. The January 2018 geophysical survey of the subsea cable path will identify areas where the cable can be buried or can be ballasted over rocky bottom. MAV is willing to work with DMR and the fishing community to determine permissible fishing activities over the cable path.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis can result from improper or damaged DC lines or single-phase AC cables.  However, the type of cable MAV will use has effectively zero chance of producing electrolysis. Our cable has three phase conductors next to each other with an electrical shield, and is mechanically protected by armor.  In addition to this, the induction of current from one run into another requires significant length of close parallel cable placement. Therefore, MAV should not impact any existing electrolysis issues.

Electro-magnetic frequencies

There are many cables along the coast, often in lobster hotspots like Rockland-Vinalhaven, and no effects on lobstering have been documented. The electrical current passing through the subsea cable will produce an electromagnetic field. However, the cable is encased in conductive sheathing (armoring), which blocks electromagnetic field radiation from entering the surrounding environment. The international scientific body of research related to EMF effects is clear—cables do not pose a threat to marine life.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has evaluated effects of EMF from power cables by conducting in-situ studies of powered and unpowered cables using SCUBA and ROV surveys (Love, et al. 2015, 2016). Results from three years of surveys included:

  1. “Researchers did not observe any significant differences in the fish communities living around energized and unenergized cables and natural habitats;
  2. They found no compelling evidence that the EMF produced by the energized power cables in this study were either attracting or repelling fish or macro invertebrates;
  3. EMF strength dissipated relatively quickly with distance from the cable and approached background levels at about one meter from the cable; and
  4. Cable burial would not appear necessary strictly for biological reasons” (Renewable Energy in situ Power Cable Observation Final Report, BOEM, 2016).

Whenever the project is over, as part of decommissioning, the turbines will be removed. The cable could remain if Monhegan or some other party sought and received regulatory approvals to use it. Typically the design life of a cable is meant to coincide with the turbine life which is typically 20+ years, depending on the manufacturer’s warranty and actual wear.

A cable failure is unlikely to happen, but if it did, it is MAV’s responsibility to have it repaired. Annual inspection and electronic fault monitoring provide indications of damage and wear. Circuit breakers and GFIs shut off power if a short or fault is detected.

The cables are very robust and used throughout the world. They are engineered to withstand this environment and are laid with methods and locations to minimize wear and avoid being dragged. Considering the trans atlantic cable (communications) was laid in the mid 1850’s and the use of electrical submarine cables for power began in the 1950’s there is a lot of history and experience. Click here to visit OpenElectrical.org, which offers an overview on submarine cables.

Fishing

Geophysical data at the Monhegan Test Site is needed in order for us to make a final determination on anchor systems, given how site-specific anchor systems are. The geophysical survey will be conducted in January.  Once the survey is complete and data has been analyzed, the project team will be able to provide more information. A key advantage of floating technology is that it allows developers to select sites optimized for least amount of impact.

MAV is in ongoing discussions with applicable regulatory agencies, insurance providers and lobstermen to confirm safe operating distances. Any recommendations for safe operating in proximity to floating turbines, mooring lines, and cables will reflect a balance between safety and operational factors, liability, and the needs of fishermen.

Currently, there is no specific restrictions other than Maine DMR statute (Title 12, Part 9, Subpart 2, Chapter 627 §6954) governing fishing around undersea cables and limits trawling and dragging in a charted cableway. This state statute doesn’t apply to fixed gear which is permitted in charted cableways. The statement that restrictions will be ½ mile for mobile and ¼ mile for fixed gear is not correct.

MAV will use the test site in cooperation with Maine fishermen to better understand safe fishing within proximity to the floating turbines, mooring lines, and cables.

As an example, the recently installed, fixed-foundation Block Island Wind Farm does not have any exclusion areas for fishing. European offshore wind farms have co-existed with fishing activities for over 20 years.

Under state statute, as administered by the Department of Marine Resources, the existing charted cable way prohibits mobile gear activities like trawling and dragging (Maine DMR statute Title 12, Part 9, Subpart 2, Chapter 627 §6954). Fixed gear, like lobster traps, are allowed. The January 2018 geophysical survey of the subsea cable path will identify areas where the cable can be buried or can be ballasted over rocky bottom. MAV is willing to work with DMR and the fishing community to determine permissible fishing activities over the cable path.

We have performed three types of analyses/monitoring for fish at the site: (1) a pelagic fish acoustic survey (to characterize primarily herring), (2) an acoustic receiver study (which picks up tagged fish such as sturgeon, dogfish, salmon and other fish with carrying tags) (3) a remotely operated vehicle survey (this is an underwater vehicle that videos the bottom) and (4) an analysis of the Maine-New Hampshire Inshore Trawl Survey.

The ROV video survey represented our best chance at picking up flounder species. We observed summer flounder, winter flounder and four spot flounder at the site although not at the densities observed at other locations along the coast. For instance, while winter flounder are the tenth most abundant fish in the Maine New Hampshire survey, they are the 17th most abundant fish at the test site. Like many structures deployed in the ocean, there is an expectation that the two turbines may increase the abundance of demersal fish such as flounder. This effect is sometimes called the reef effect. For instance, the Block Island project reports a significant increase in recreational fishing in the vicinity of that offshore wind project.

After the platforms and turbines are installed, we will repeat the Remotely Operated Vehicle survey to determine if, in fact, there is a ‘reef effect’ and whether the fish community changes. Also, acoustic receivers will be re-deployed to monitor for acoustically tagged fish such as sturgeon and salmon.

MAV has shared studies that we have completed with Monhegan Energy Task Force. They are posted on the Monheganenergy.info site at: http://www.monheganenergy.info/#resources.

The tow will be made within existing shipping channels. A Pilot from the Penobscot Bay & River Pilots Association will participate in the tow from Searsport to the Test Site. The tow will occur in late July or August in 2020. A Notice to Mariners will be posted with significant lead time to deployment. A gear compensation program will be established in case of accidental fishing gear interference during deployment.

The Department of Marine Resources and state statutes govern the placing of lobster traps in the Monhegan Conservation Zone.  The Maine Aqua Ventus demonstration project in the state-designated test site does not affect enforcement actions by the DMR.

Maine Aqua Ventus

We are committed to a two-turbine demonstration project within the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island for evaluating technology, monitoring the environment, and developing best practices for coexistence with marine users.

MAV is installing a cable sized to meet the two 6 MW turbines.

Test site usage is limited by state law LD 1465 to a maximum of 2 wind turbines, 3 meteorological towers per wind turbine, one submerged utility line with up to 25 MW capacity, up to 2 wave energy converters, and an ocean sensor package. More information about this law and the permitting process for the test site can be accessed at: https://umaine.edu/offshorewindtestsite/using-test-site/.

In the Monhegan Community Benefit Agreement, approved by Monhegan voters on November 2, 2017, MAV has committed to build no commercial projects within 15 miles of Monhegan. In addition, the University of Maine has agreed to not allow the use of UMaine’s VolturnUS floating technology within 15 miles from Monhegan, or allow the use of the technology within 10 miles of other inhabited Maine islands, and the mainland coast. UMaine published this commitment in early 2017.

The two turbine demonstration project serves multiple goals. A) to demonstrate floating technology; b) to demonstrate the interaction of the two turbines in proximity to each other to generate wind power effects such as shadowing; c) to demonstrate the electrical connection of multiple turbines connected to one subsea cable; and d) to generate enough electricity for sale to pay for the project.

Test site usage is limited by state law LD 1465 to a maximum of 2 wind turbines, 3 meteorological towers per wind turbine, one submerged utility line with up to 25 MW capacity, up to 2 wave energy converters, and an ocean sensor package. More information about this law and the permitting process for the test site can be accessed at: https://umaine.edu/offshorewindtestsite/using-test-site/.

Yes, a bond will be posted to fund project removal as required by state permitting.

LD 1465, the State statute governing the use of the test site has specific requirements for project removal, Subsection G. page 6., includes the following:

G. A project removal plan that the applicant will, at its expense, initiate within 60 days of termination of a general permit granted pursuant to this section and that provides for:

(1) Removal of the project in its entirety from all project lands and waters, except for any part of the project regarding which the applicant provides the department substantial evidence of plans for continued beneficial use, including but not limited to an executed lease of state-owned submerged lands, as applicable, or for partial removal or other modification adequate to avoid foreseeable adverse effects on natural resources and existing uses;

(2) Minimizing seabed disturbances and suspended sediments during removal of any underwater facilities;

(3) Monitoring the effects of the removal activities on species listed as threatened or endangered species in Title 12, section 6975 or Title 12, section 12803, subsection 3 and marine resources both during and subsequent to completion of removal activities;

(4) An implementation schedule that provides for all removal and restoration activities to be completed within one year of the expiration date of the general permit pursuant to subsection 9;

(5) An estimate of the total project removal cost, without regard to salvage value of the equipment, and the net project removal cost, prepared by a licensed professional engineer; and

(6) Written evidence and certification that the applicant has posted and will maintain funds for project removal in an amount equal to the net project removal cost, except that at no point may such funds be less than 25% of the total project removal cost. The applicant shall post and maintain project removal funds with a bonding company or federal-chartered or state-chartered lending institution that is authorized to do business in the State and chosen by the applicant and considered acceptable by the department posting the financial security. Project removal funds may be in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit, corporate guarantee or other form of financial assurance that the department considers adequate to ensure funds posted pursuant to this paragraph will remain inviolate and available for project removal if the applicant ceases to exist, declares bankruptcy or becomes insolvent or otherwise unable to finance the project removal plan required under this paragraph.”

The goals of New England Aqua Ventus I are to:

  • Demonstrate UMaine’s VolturnUS at full scale, allowing floating farms to be built out-of-sight across the U.S. and the world in the 2020s and beyond
  • Work with local contractors and manufacturers to perfect construction of the floating concrete hull and generate local jobs and economic benefit
  • Create and keep Maine jobs in Maine
  • Provide low-cost, clean, renewable energy now and in the future that competes favorably with other forms of electricity generation without subsidies.

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.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of the Interior (DOI) released a National Offshore Wind Strategy document in September 2016 which indicates that 80% of U.S. electricity demands are located in coastal states, and that the total U.S. offshore wind energy potential is more than twice what the entire country currently uses. Nearly 80% of the U.S. offshore wind resource is located in deepwater.

Offshore wind development will:

  1. Create new jobs for Mainers. (Gabe, 2013)
  2. Minimize viewshed issues
  3. Place renewable energy generation closer to major U.S. population centers.
  4. Allow access stronger and more consistent winds.
  5. Reduce energy costs over time by reducing transmission costs from remote land sites, simplifying deployment, and simplifying maintenance.

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.

Project participants include Cianbro, Naval Energies, and Maine Prime Technologies, LLC, a spin-off company representing the University of Maine.

University of Maine’s (UMaine) Advanced Structures and Composites Center, under the direction of Dr. Habib Dagher, P.E., developed the innovative, patent-pending VolturnUS technology that makes Maine Aqua Ventus possible. It assembled the DeepCwind Consortium, without whom this vision would not be realized. To read about VolturnUS 1:8, the 1/8th scale floating offshore wind turbine that Maine Aqua Ventus builds upon, please click here.

NEAV I is designed to meet the objectives of the Ocean Energy Act and Maine legislation to yield tangible economic benefits for Maine, and to lead to even larger-scale, more cost-effective offshore wind developments in Maine and markets worldwide. Successful demonstration of the technology has the potential to lead to a 500 MW-scale project placed in U.S. federal waters.

Maine Aqua Ventus is committed to:

  • Frequent and transparent outreach with communities and existing marine users
  • A two-turbine demonstration project within the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island for evaluating technology, monitoring the environment, and developing best practices for coexistence with marine users
  • An emphasis on local economic development opportunities
  • Future use of UMaine’s VolturnUS floating technology only in commercial projects located more than 10 miles from Monhegan, other inhabited Maine islands, and the mainland coast.

To download a printable copy of this commitment, visit this link.

Operations & Maintenance

Geophysical data at the Monhegan Test Site is needed in order for us to make a final determination on anchor systems, given how site-specific anchor systems are. The geophysical survey will be conducted in January.  Once the survey is complete and data has been analyzed, the project team will be able to provide more information. A key advantage of floating technology is that it allows developers to select sites optimized for least amount of impact.

The tow will be made within existing shipping channels. A Pilot from the Penobscot Bay & River Pilots Association will participate in the tow from Searsport to the Test Site. The tow will occur in late July or August in 2020. A Notice to Mariners will be posted with significant lead time to deployment. A gear compensation program will be established in case of accidental fishing gear interference during deployment.

Permitting, Marine, and Potential Environmental Impacts

We have performed three types of analyses/monitoring for fish at the site: (1) a pelagic fish acoustic survey (to characterize primarily herring), (2) an acoustic receiver study (which picks up tagged fish such as sturgeon, dogfish, salmon and other fish with carrying tags) (3) a remotely operated vehicle survey (this is an underwater vehicle that videos the bottom) and (4) an analysis of the Maine-New Hampshire Inshore Trawl Survey.

The ROV video survey represented our best chance at picking up flounder species. We observed summer flounder, winter flounder and four spot flounder at the site although not at the densities observed at other locations along the coast. For instance, while winter flounder are the tenth most abundant fish in the Maine New Hampshire survey, they are the 17th most abundant fish at the test site. Like many structures deployed in the ocean, there is an expectation that the two turbines may increase the abundance of demersal fish such as flounder. This effect is sometimes called the reef effect. For instance, the Block Island project reports a significant increase in recreational fishing in the vicinity of that offshore wind project.

After the platforms and turbines are installed, we will repeat the Remotely Operated Vehicle survey to determine if, in fact, there is a ‘reef effect’ and whether the fish community changes. Also, acoustic receivers will be re-deployed to monitor for acoustically tagged fish such as sturgeon and salmon.

MAV has shared studies that we have completed with Monhegan Energy Task Force. They are posted on the Monheganenergy.info site at: http://www.monheganenergy.info/#resources.

Per LD 1465, an applicant for a general permit must file an application with the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection that contains:

  1. Written certification that the offshore wind energy demonstration project will be located within the test site
  2. A site plan that includes several elements (See LD 1465, Section 3B)
  3. A report prepared in consultation with the Department of Marine Resources including several specific requirements (See LD 1465, Section 3C)
  4. Acknowledgment that the Maine DEP may require applicant to take remedial action at the applicant’s expense
  5. A Fish and Wildlife Monitoring Plan that includes provisions for conducting monitoring throughout the term of the permit (See LD 1465, Section 3E)
  6. Navigation and Safety Plan to protect the public and project facilities (See LD 1465, Section 3F)
  7. Project Removal Plan for removal of the project within 60 days of termination of a general permit (See LD 1465, Section 3G)
  8. Documentation that each item (5 through 7) was created in consultation with several federal and state agencies, including Maine Department of Marine Resources, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, and others (See LD 1465, Section 3H)
  9. Proof of Insurance
  10. Proof of Financial and Technical Capacity to construct and operate the project as proposed
  11. Proof that no applicant has ownership holds or has applied for another permit under this legislation
  12. Proof of Cooperation with the University of Maine System

The University of Maine, the State of Maine, and U.S. Department of Energy funded significant efforts to characterize the baseline physical and ecological environment of the test site, including: metocean conditions; bird and bat studies; fish, lobsters, marine mammals; and geophysical surveys.

The full list of surveys and related results can be viewed, here.

Comprehensive environmental studies have been conducted at the project site since 2010. Per state and federal laws, environmental monitoring will continue through construction and operation at the project to ensure no adverse effects to sea and bird life. An Environmental Assessment will be conducted.

A full list of surveys completed to date can be viewed, here: https://umaine.edu/offshorewindtestsite/scientific-surveys-results/

 

Project Specifications, Management, and Finances

We are committed to a two-turbine demonstration project within the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island for evaluating technology, monitoring the environment, and developing best practices for coexistence with marine users.

MAV is installing a cable sized to meet the two 6 MW turbines.

Test site usage is limited by state law LD 1465 to a maximum of 2 wind turbines, 3 meteorological towers per wind turbine, one submerged utility line with up to 25 MW capacity, up to 2 wave energy converters, and an ocean sensor package. More information about this law and the permitting process for the test site can be accessed at: https://umaine.edu/offshorewindtestsite/using-test-site/.

In the Monhegan Community Benefit Agreement, approved by Monhegan voters on November 2, 2017, MAV has committed to build no commercial projects within 15 miles of Monhegan. In addition, the University of Maine has agreed to not allow the use of UMaine’s VolturnUS floating technology within 15 miles from Monhegan, or allow the use of the technology within 10 miles of other inhabited Maine islands, and the mainland coast. UMaine published this commitment in early 2017.

The two turbine demonstration project serves multiple goals. A) to demonstrate floating technology; b) to demonstrate the interaction of the two turbines in proximity to each other to generate wind power effects such as shadowing; c) to demonstrate the electrical connection of multiple turbines connected to one subsea cable; and d) to generate enough electricity for sale to pay for the project.

Test site usage is limited by state law LD 1465 to a maximum of 2 wind turbines, 3 meteorological towers per wind turbine, one submerged utility line with up to 25 MW capacity, up to 2 wave energy converters, and an ocean sensor package. More information about this law and the permitting process for the test site can be accessed at: https://umaine.edu/offshorewindtestsite/using-test-site/.

Yes, a bond will be posted to fund project removal as required by state permitting.

LD 1465, the State statute governing the use of the test site has specific requirements for project removal, Subsection G. page 6., includes the following:

G. A project removal plan that the applicant will, at its expense, initiate within 60 days of termination of a general permit granted pursuant to this section and that provides for:

(1) Removal of the project in its entirety from all project lands and waters, except for any part of the project regarding which the applicant provides the department substantial evidence of plans for continued beneficial use, including but not limited to an executed lease of state-owned submerged lands, as applicable, or for partial removal or other modification adequate to avoid foreseeable adverse effects on natural resources and existing uses;

(2) Minimizing seabed disturbances and suspended sediments during removal of any underwater facilities;

(3) Monitoring the effects of the removal activities on species listed as threatened or endangered species in Title 12, section 6975 or Title 12, section 12803, subsection 3 and marine resources both during and subsequent to completion of removal activities;

(4) An implementation schedule that provides for all removal and restoration activities to be completed within one year of the expiration date of the general permit pursuant to subsection 9;

(5) An estimate of the total project removal cost, without regard to salvage value of the equipment, and the net project removal cost, prepared by a licensed professional engineer; and

(6) Written evidence and certification that the applicant has posted and will maintain funds for project removal in an amount equal to the net project removal cost, except that at no point may such funds be less than 25% of the total project removal cost. The applicant shall post and maintain project removal funds with a bonding company or federal-chartered or state-chartered lending institution that is authorized to do business in the State and chosen by the applicant and considered acceptable by the department posting the financial security. Project removal funds may be in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit, corporate guarantee or other form of financial assurance that the department considers adequate to ensure funds posted pursuant to this paragraph will remain inviolate and available for project removal if the applicant ceases to exist, declares bankruptcy or becomes insolvent or otherwise unable to finance the project removal plan required under this paragraph.”

Inspections will be scheduled during summer periods (low wind times) and can be coordinated with commercial fishing activities to minimize potential for gear conflict. A standard 20m (65 ft) service vessel will be used.

  • Subsea Cable – Annual Inspection @ 2 days in summer (with ROV deployed from service vessel).
  • Moorings – Annual Inspection @ 2 days in summer (with ROV deployed from service vessel).
  • Platforms –
    • Scheduled 2 trips per year in summer @ 4 days,
    • unscheduled 4 trips per year @ 1 day/each trip.
  • Turbines –
    • Scheduled 1 trip/year @ 5 days in summer,
    • unscheduled 4 trips per year @ 1 day per trip.

To the extent possible, boat/vessel trips would be combined for all maintenance.

MAV is responsible for gear damage during service trips. A gear compensation program will be established in case of accidental fishing gear interference during maintenance.

The goals of New England Aqua Ventus I are to:

  • Demonstrate UMaine’s VolturnUS at full scale, allowing floating farms to be built out-of-sight across the U.S. and the world in the 2020s and beyond
  • Work with local contractors and manufacturers to perfect construction of the floating concrete hull and generate local jobs and economic benefit
  • Create and keep Maine jobs in Maine
  • Provide low-cost, clean, renewable energy now and in the future that competes favorably with other forms of electricity generation without subsidies.

In 2009, the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) designated the site off Mohegan Island as one of three Wind Energy Test Areas off the Maine coast.

These sites were chosen through extensive analysis and outreach efforts by State officials, with input from local/federal officials, fishermen, and residents, to examine the Maine coast for the best possible test site with least amount of impact.

As part of this process, a community forum was held on Monhegan Island to discuss issues related to the identifying a wind energy demonstration area off of Monhegan. During this forum, fishermen were asked to engage in a mapping exercise to rank blocks within the planning area to understand if and where a wind energy demonstration project could be located in waters near to the Island. Several Monhegan fishermen submitted their rankings to the State Planning Office as part of this outreach process.

As a result of this outreach process, the DOC also designated Mohegan as the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site to support UMaine’s ongoing research and development efforts.

Since 2009, UMaine has continued its outreach with Mohegan and Midcoast Maine and other potentially affected industry and environmental stakeholders. With dozens of meetings, presentations, video conferences, and telephone conferences, as well as more than two years of weekly or monthly calls with the Monhegan Energy Task Force (METF) since its inception, UMaine has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the island’s concerns.

In July 2016, Monhegan Island voted for the Monhegan Plantation to engage in negotiations with Maine Aqua Ventus on a community benefit package, a significant milestone and a requirement of the project’s power purchase contract term sheet with the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

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.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of the Interior (DOI) released a National Offshore Wind Strategy document in September 2016 which indicates that 80% of U.S. electricity demands are located in coastal states, and that the total U.S. offshore wind energy potential is more than twice what the entire country currently uses. Nearly 80% of the U.S. offshore wind resource is located in deepwater.

Offshore wind development will:

  1. Create new jobs for Mainers. (Gabe, 2013)
  2. Minimize viewshed issues
  3. Place renewable energy generation closer to major U.S. population centers.
  4. Allow access stronger and more consistent winds.
  5. Reduce energy costs over time by reducing transmission costs from remote land sites, simplifying deployment, and simplifying maintenance.

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.

NEAV I is designed to meet the objectives of the Ocean Energy Act and Maine legislation to yield tangible economic benefits for Maine, and to lead to even larger-scale, more cost-effective offshore wind developments in Maine and markets worldwide. Successful demonstration of the technology has the potential to lead to a 500 MW-scale project placed in U.S. federal waters.

Maine Aqua Ventus is committed to:

  • Frequent and transparent outreach with communities and existing marine users
  • A two-turbine demonstration project within the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island for evaluating technology, monitoring the environment, and developing best practices for coexistence with marine users
  • An emphasis on local economic development opportunities
  • Future use of UMaine’s VolturnUS floating technology only in commercial projects located more than 10 miles from Monhegan, other inhabited Maine islands, and the mainland coast.

To download a printable copy of this commitment, visit this link.

Regulatory agencies require a decommissioning plan and sufficient funding must be available from the developer to implement it. LD 1465, the State statute governing use of the test site, provides further details about requirements for project removal in Subsection G.

Sea and Marine Life

We have performed three types of analyses/monitoring for fish at the site: (1) a pelagic fish acoustic survey (to characterize primarily herring), (2) an acoustic receiver study (which picks up tagged fish such as sturgeon, dogfish, salmon and other fish with carrying tags) (3) a remotely operated vehicle survey (this is an underwater vehicle that videos the bottom) and (4) an analysis of the Maine-New Hampshire Inshore Trawl Survey.

The ROV video survey represented our best chance at picking up flounder species. We observed summer flounder, winter flounder and four spot flounder at the site although not at the densities observed at other locations along the coast. For instance, while winter flounder are the tenth most abundant fish in the Maine New Hampshire survey, they are the 17th most abundant fish at the test site. Like many structures deployed in the ocean, there is an expectation that the two turbines may increase the abundance of demersal fish such as flounder. This effect is sometimes called the reef effect. For instance, the Block Island project reports a significant increase in recreational fishing in the vicinity of that offshore wind project.

After the platforms and turbines are installed, we will repeat the Remotely Operated Vehicle survey to determine if, in fact, there is a ‘reef effect’ and whether the fish community changes. Also, acoustic receivers will be re-deployed to monitor for acoustically tagged fish such as sturgeon and salmon.

MAV has shared studies that we have completed with Monhegan Energy Task Force. They are posted on the Monheganenergy.info site at: http://www.monheganenergy.info/#resources.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis can result from improper or damaged DC lines or single-phase AC cables.  However, the type of cable MAV will use has effectively zero chance of producing electrolysis. Our cable has three phase conductors next to each other with an electrical shield, and is mechanically protected by armor.  In addition to this, the induction of current from one run into another requires significant length of close parallel cable placement. Therefore, MAV should not impact any existing electrolysis issues.

Electro-magnetic frequencies

There are many cables along the coast, often in lobster hotspots like Rockland-Vinalhaven, and no effects on lobstering have been documented. The electrical current passing through the subsea cable will produce an electromagnetic field. However, the cable is encased in conductive sheathing (armoring), which blocks electromagnetic field radiation from entering the surrounding environment. The international scientific body of research related to EMF effects is clear—cables do not pose a threat to marine life.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has evaluated effects of EMF from power cables by conducting in-situ studies of powered and unpowered cables using SCUBA and ROV surveys (Love, et al. 2015, 2016). Results from three years of surveys included:

  1. “Researchers did not observe any significant differences in the fish communities living around energized and unenergized cables and natural habitats;
  2. They found no compelling evidence that the EMF produced by the energized power cables in this study were either attracting or repelling fish or macro invertebrates;
  3. EMF strength dissipated relatively quickly with distance from the cable and approached background levels at about one meter from the cable; and
  4. Cable burial would not appear necessary strictly for biological reasons” (Renewable Energy in situ Power Cable Observation Final Report, BOEM, 2016).

Comprehensive environmental studies have been conducted at the project site since 2010. Per state and federal laws, environmental monitoring will continue through construction and operation at the project to ensure no adverse effects to sea and bird life. An Environmental Assessment will be conducted.

A full list of surveys completed to date can be viewed, here: https://umaine.edu/offshorewindtestsite/scientific-surveys-results/

 

UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island

The UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site can be used for offshore wind energy demonstration projects conducted by or in cooperation with the University of Maine. Usage is limited to a maximum of 2 wind turbines, 3 meteorological towers per wind turbine, one submerged utility line with up to 25 MW capacity, up to 2 wave energy converters, and an ocean sensor package. Click here for a list of what’s allowed, how a project is permitted, and how to initiate a project within the test site.

There are no restrictions on fishing or other traditional activities within the test site above and beyond current state and federal statutes.

The UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site is located nearly 3 miles south west of Monhegan Island, ME, more than 12 miles from the coast of Maine.

Following an extensive public process, the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island was designated to the University of Maine in 2009 by legislation through LD 1465The site was selected in part due to its distance from the mainland, strong and consistent winds, a limited number of fishermen, and its proximity to an island with high energy costs.

Click here for more information about how the test site at Monhegan Island was selected.

The University of Maine, the State of Maine, and U.S. Department of Energy funded significant efforts to characterize the baseline physical and ecological environment of the test site, including: metocean conditions; bird and bat studies; fish, lobsters, marine mammals; and geophysical surveys.

The full list of surveys and related results can be viewed, here.

In 2009, the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) designated the site off Mohegan Island as one of three Wind Energy Test Areas off the Maine coast.

These sites were chosen through extensive analysis and outreach efforts by State officials, with input from local/federal officials, fishermen, and residents, to examine the Maine coast for the best possible test site with least amount of impact.

As part of this process, a community forum was held on Monhegan Island to discuss issues related to the identifying a wind energy demonstration area off of Monhegan. During this forum, fishermen were asked to engage in a mapping exercise to rank blocks within the planning area to understand if and where a wind energy demonstration project could be located in waters near to the Island. Several Monhegan fishermen submitted their rankings to the State Planning Office as part of this outreach process.

As a result of this outreach process, the DOC also designated Mohegan as the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site to support UMaine’s ongoing research and development efforts.

Since 2009, UMaine has continued its outreach with Mohegan and Midcoast Maine and other potentially affected industry and environmental stakeholders. With dozens of meetings, presentations, video conferences, and telephone conferences, as well as more than two years of weekly or monthly calls with the Monhegan Energy Task Force (METF) since its inception, UMaine has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the island’s concerns.

In July 2016, Monhegan Island voted for the Monhegan Plantation to engage in negotiations with Maine Aqua Ventus on a community benefit package, a significant milestone and a requirement of the project’s power purchase contract term sheet with the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

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.

VolturnUS

VolturnUS is the name of UMaine’s proprietary floating offshore wind turbine hull technology. The first platform to bear this name, VolturnUS 1:8, is a one-eighth scale, fully operating version of the full-scale concept. It is the first offshore wind turbine in the Americas.

VolturnUS 1:8 was launched from Cianbro Corporation‘s facility in Brewer, Maine, on May 31, 2013, and operated off the coast of Castine, Maine, for 18 months.

Click here to learn more about the VolturnUS and its deployment.