VolturnUS 1:8, a 65-foot-tall offshore wind turbine prototype, connected to the Central Maine Power Company on June 13, making it the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in North America.
The turbine is 1:8th the scale of a 6MW, 423-foot rotor diameter design. It is sited off the coast of Castine, Maine.
“Today will constitute a historic moment for offshore wind in the Americas,” Habib Dagher, director of the Advanced Structure and Composites Center at the University of Maine and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium said during a ceremony marking the occasion. Dagher was joined at the event by Peter Vigue, president and CEO of Cianbro Corp.; Jake Ward, UMaine vice president for innovation and economic development; and William Brennan, president of Maine Maritime Academy.
The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than five years of collaborative research and development conducted by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium. The DeepCwind research program is a unique public-private partnership funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation-Partners for Innovation, Maine Technology Institute, the state of Maine, the University of Maine and more than 30 industry partners.
Jose Zayas, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office who was in Brewer, Maine for the turbine’s May 31 launch, says the Castine offshore wind project represents “a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing industry, to bring tremendous untapped energy resources to market and create new jobs across the country.”
Data acquired during the 2013 deployments off Castine will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS system. The program goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation without subsidies.The UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center has partnered with industry leaders to invest in a 12MW, $96-million pilot farm. The deployments this summer will de-risk UMaine’s VolturnUS technology in preparation for connecting the first full-scale unit to the grid in 2016.
Maine has 156GW of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores and a plan to deploy 5GW of offshore wind by 2030. The 5GW plan could potentially attract $20 billion of private investment to the state, creating thousands of jobs.