The University of Maine is moving forward with plans for the first full-scale offshore floating turbine in the U.S., Kallanish Energy understands.
It’s a small project, up to two offshore wind turbines producing as much as 12 megawatts of power, but it would blaze a new trail. If all goes as planned, in 2022, Aqua Ventus will become the first floating offshore wind farm in the nation, InsideClimate News reports.
Less than a year after Democrat Janet Mills replaced Republican Paul LePage as Maine’s governor, state utility regulators approved a contract this month under which the utility Avangrid will buy the power generated by Aqua Ventus.
The vote followed legislation Mills signed this past summer requiring the Maine Public Utilities Commission to approve the pilot project, which has been six years in the making, InsideClimate News reported. Mills has committed the state to 80% renewable electricity by 2030, and 100% by 2050.
Conventional offshore wind farms require foundations to be built in water no deeper than 196 feet, limiting the number of sites feasible for construction. Floating platforms would open up site development in deeper waters like Maine’s, and farther offshore.
The Maine project, developed by a consortium led by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, will test a floating platform that holds up to two 6 MW wind turbines located 12 miles off the Maine coast.
It’s expected to begin operations in 2022, a university spokesperson told InsideClimate News. The electricity will be carried to the mainland via an ocean-floor cable.
Worldwide, there is 23,000 MW of installed offshore wind capacity, most of that in Europe, InsideClimate News reported.
The U.S., in contrast, has just one operating offshore wind farm, five turbines producing 30 MW of electricity, for Block Island, off Rhode Island’s coast.
But eight New England and Mid-Atlantic states have set targets to expand offshore wind power to just over 25,000 MW over the next decade.
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