Project Benefits and Opportunities

Why offshore wind?

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.

Once proven through the New England Aqua Ventus I pilot project, the University of Maine’s VolturnUS technology could be used to harness the deepwater offshore wind resource within the United States.

Offshore wind development will:

  • Start a new industry; create jobs in engineering, construction, manufacturing, maintenance, navigation, and other areas.

  • Reduce Maine’s reliance on imported fossil fuels (nearly $6 billion per year); keep more of our energy dollars in Maine.

For more than 10 years, UMaine has led development of the 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.

States to the south of us are working to build their offshore wind industries: MA, RI, NY, and MD have major projects in the works attracting billions of dollars in local investments.

Benefits to Maine

University of Maine Economist Todd Gabe estimates that the New England Aqua Ventus I project will produce nearly $200 million in total economic output, and more than 1,500 Maine-based jobs, including jobs for construction and operations and maintenance. A full economic analysis from 2013 can be accessed here.

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.

In Maine, offshore wind energy represents our largest untapped natural energy resource, with more than 156 GW (1 gigawatt =1,000 megawatts) of clean power off our coast thanks to the Gulf of Maine’s high quality offshore wind resource. Mainers currently use 2.4 GW of electricity each year and New England population centers with high electrical demand are nearby. Tapping this renewable resource could provide significant, locally produced energy for Maine and the region.

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.

Offshore wind resource map

Click the image to view the U.S. offshore wind resource map which shows Maine’s high quality wind resource relative to other parts of the U.S.