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Updated: September 23, 2019

UMaine receives $1.4M for offshore wind project

COURTESY / MAINE AQUA VENTUS The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the University of Maine $1.4 million to design a concrete floating offshore wind turbine. Here, a worker at Cianbro's Brewer facility checks on UMaine’s prototype offshore wind platform.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the University of Maine $1.4 million to design a concrete floating offshore wind turbine. 

The grant is one of 13 made nationwide, totaling $26 million, as part of the federal agency’s Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program, according to a news release.

Overall, the goal is to develop new technologies for floating, offshore wind turbines, with focuses on three technology development areas: new designs, computer tools and experiments.

Existing floating systems typically utilize large floating platforms to maintain stability and survive storms, according to the release. ATLANTIS projects will apply new designs that eliminate the need for such large platforms, with technologies that use integrated feedback control systems and large turbine rotor areas to increase the stability of the turbines.

Rocket technology

The University of Maine will design an ultra-lightweight, corrosion-resistant, concrete floating offshore wind turbine equipped with motion mitigation technology originally developed by NASA to reduce vibrations in rockets. 

UMaine has adapted this technology to counteract floating offshore wind turbine motions, leading to lighter platforms, increased turbine performance, and lower cost of energy. The proposal is considered a radical next step in the field of offshore wind.

UMaine has 12 years of experience in designing and deploying the first grid-connected floating offshore wind turbine in the U.S. The program will leverage the design, numerical modeling and scale model testing capabilities of the UMaine Harold Alfond W2 Wind-Wave Ocean Engineering Laboratory to significantly advance the concept.

U.S. Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced the award.

“The Gulf of Maine has tremendous potential as a source of affordable, renewable wind energy, which would create thousands of new jobs and diversify our state’s electricity supply,” they said in a joint release.  

"With this funding, we plan to further stabilize our floating wind turbine hull in extreme storms by integrating NASA rocket vibration suppression technology into the design,” Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said in the release. “This will help lighten the hull and further decrease our already very low electricity costs.”

Harnessing just 3% of the Gulf of Maine offshore wind resource is enough to heat every home in Maine and convert every car to electricity.

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