The first floating wind turbine in North America will hit the waters of the Penobscot River today before making the trip out to sea for its initial test run, the Portland Press Herald reported.
A consortium of companies and University of Maine researchers are pinning hopes on the success of the 65-foot VolturnUS prototype to boost offshore wind development. The DeepCWind Consortium includes Cianbro Corp., Bath Iron Works and Central Maine Power Co. parent, Iberdrola.
The turbine, built at Cianbro's Eastern Manufacturing Facility, is one of seven projects to receive a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Following the launch of the pilot project today, the consortium will vie for another $50 million federal grant. Competitors for the funding include Norwegian energy giant Statoil, which has plans for a $120 million offshore wind pilot project in the Gulf of Maine that has also won a $4 million Department of Energy grant.
Habib Dagher, the professor leading UMaine's Offshore Wind Laboratory, told the paper that it's unlikely the Department of Energy will approve second-round funding for two projects in the same state.