UMaine-led offshore wind project receives additional $3.7 million from DOE
Nov. 16, 2015
Contact: Jennifer O’Leary, 207.515.3341
Orono, Maine — The University of Maine-led New England Aqua Ventus I offshore wind project will be awarded an additional $3.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), subject to appropriations, to complete engineering and planning work, and approach financial close.
The funding, announced by Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement
Nov. 16, is in addition to $3 million awarded by DOE in September 2014 to advance the design to deployment readiness.
“The continued confidence of the Department of Energy in the University of Maine’s Offshore Wind Demonstration Project speaks to the value of our research and development efforts — and the great potential to make a difference in this state and beyond,” said UMaine President Susan J. Hunter. “This additional funding recognizes the significant technology advancements UMaine and its partners have made on this project in the past year, and it makes possible even greater progress. We appreciate the leadership and vision of Maine’s Congressional Delegation that have helped make this, and other federal funding, a reality for Maine.”
In May 2014, New England/Maine Aqua Ventus I was selected as an alternate by the DOE for the next phase of its Advanced Technology Demonstration Program, which started out with nearly 70 projects. At that time, DOE provided UMaine with $3 million and noted that Maine’s VolturnUS technology, which was successfully demonstrated on a pilot scale near Castine, Maine, was highly favorable and innovative, and “with additional engineering and design, will further enhance the properties of American offshore wind technology options.”
Since then, the data collected from the single VolturnUS 1:8 scale turbine demonstrated the viability of the floating concrete and composites hull. VolturnUS 1:8, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine deployed off the coast of North America, was launched in Brewer May 31, 2013 by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and its partners. The prototype — the first concrete-composite floating platform wind turbine deployed in the world — remained off the coast of Castine, Maine for 1.5 years.
Over 50 onboard sensors measured waves, wind, current, motions and stresses on the floating platform. Relative to its 1:8 scale, the Castine unit saw 37 storms with return periods from 50 to 500 years, including relative wave heights equivalent to 70 feet. The data collected was used to further optimize the full-scale 6 MW concrete hull design. Over the past year, cost studies were conducted with contractors from Maine and across the U.S. and the world to demonstrate the cost-reduction advantages of the VolturnUS floating concrete hull technology.
In their joint announcement, Senators Collins and King stated: “This extraordinary investment is proof that the DOE recognizes what we have long known: that the Gulf of Maine is a tremendous resource for wind energy that could provide an affordable source of renewable energy directly to the country’s population centers on the East Coast, while creating thousands of new jobs in Maine and diversifying the state’s electricity supply. We will continue to support the University of Maine as it participates in this demonstration program and to help ensure that Maine remains at the forefront of deepwater, offshore wind power development and innovation.”
“We are pleased that the Department of Energy decided to award the University of Maine an additional $3.7 million to put the New England Aqua Ventus I Demonstration Project on financial par with the other DOE-funded offshore wind demonstration projects,” said Professor Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and principal investigator of the DeepCwind Consortium.
“We continue to make significant progress by demonstrating the technical advantages and cost reductions of the VolturnUS floating concrete offshore wind technology,” Dagher said. “Our team is busy putting the final touches on the design of the 6MW hulls for the two-turbine, 12MW demonstration project. The additional funding will help us complete all aspects of the project planning, negotiate supply contracts with industrial partners and approach financial close for the project. The UMaine VolturnUS technology has important national impact as it allows us to more cost effectively access over 50 percent of the U.S. offshore wind resource in deep waters within 50 miles of the coast, and creates local and regional jobs as the hulls can be produced near the project site.”
New England/Maine Aqua Ventus is considered part of the DOE’s offshore wind portfolio under the Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects, along with projects in Virginia, New Jersey, Oregon and Ohio.
Decisions on which of the five projects advance and receive an additional $40 million will be made by DOE by May 31, 2016, according to DOE.
About the University of Maine:
The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state’s premier public university and is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2015. UMaine is among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast and attracts students from Maine and 45 other states, and 65 countries. It currently enrolls 10,922 total undergraduate and graduate students who can directly participate in groundbreaking research working with world-class scholars. The University of Maine offers doctoral degrees in 35 fields, representing the humanities, sciences, engineering and education; master’s degrees in nearly 70 disciplines; 90 undergraduate majors and academic programs; and one of the oldest and most prestigious honors programs in the U.S. The university promotes environmental stewardship on its campus, with substantial efforts aimed at conserving energy, recycling and adhering to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu.
About UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center:
Since its establishment by the National Science Foundation in 1996, the center has employed and trained over 1,800 UMaine undergraduate and graduate students. These students were paid to work on award-winning R&D projects with over 500 Maine-based, national and international companies. The center is housed on campus in a 100,000-square-foot laboratory facility valued at over $110 million.
Research at the center has resulted in 42 issued and pending patents, over 500 published technical papers, and the creation of Maine spinoff companies through licensing agreements of its inventions, patents or trade secrets. This earned the UMaine Composites Center the 2008 Maine Development Foundation’s Champion for Economic Development Award.
The center has received 40 national and international excellence awards, including:
- 2015 White House Transportation Champion of Change
- Top industry awards from the American Composites Manufacturers Association.
- The 2011 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the top global innovation award for its Bridge-in-a-Backpack technology.
- The 2011 Engineering Excellence Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).
With funding from the Department of Energy, the center has pioneered development of ocean energy technologies, deploying in 2013 the first grid-connected floating offshore wind turbine in the U.S. in partnership with 30 organizations. Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT), a 2008 spin-off, constructed 20 bridges and became the first composite technology bridge system to be approved in the U.S. AASHTO highway code. It is now an international company after installing a bridge in Trinidad.
In addition, Compotech Inc., located in Brewer, spun-off the center in 2014 to commercialize blast and ballistic technologies. Revolution Research, Inc. was created in 2014 by two center students to develop recyclable insulation using cellulose nanofibrils.