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University of Maine and NEAV to lead development of Maine floating offshore wind

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The University of Maine will collaborate with New England Aqua Ventus (NEAV), a joint venture between Diamond Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation, and RWE Renewables, to develop UMaine’s floating offshore wind technology demonstration project off the coast of Maine.

As the developer, NEAV will own and manage all aspects of permitting, construction and assembly, deployment and ongoing operations for the project. UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center will continue with design and engineering, research and development and post-construction monitoring.

The project will consist of a single semi-submersible concrete floating platform that will support a commercial 10-12 megawatt wind turbine and will be deployed in a state-designated area two miles south of Monhegan Island and 14 miles from the Maine coast.

The purpose of the demonstration project is to further evaluate the floating technology, monitor environmental factors and develop best practices for offshore wind to coexist with traditional marine activities. It will supply clean, renewable electricity to the Maine grid.

Construction, following all permitting, is expected to be completed in 2023.

An immediate priority for the new development team is to engage with the fishing industry, other maritime users, coastal communities and other interested parties on how to ensure this new renewable energy source can optimally provide economic growth to Maine and work with maritime industries.

“Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables bring global expertise in offshore wind project development and construction and we look forward to working with them to demonstrate UMaine’s floating hull technology in Maine waters. Our design is ideally suited for deepwater deployment anywhere and has the potential to play a significant role in global efforts to decrease dependence on fossil fuels.”

Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables, with years of collective offshore energy experience and success, will invest $100 million to build the project and help demonstrate the technology at full scale. Combined, the two new partners are responsible for nearly a quarter of the world’s offshore wind capacity.

“This is a significant milestone for the University of Maine, the offshore wind research team and the state of Maine. As Maine’s research university, UMaine is continually advancing its broad land grant, sea and space grant mission. The path from fundamental research to economic realization is complex, and success takes incredible innovation, persistence and strategic partnerships. Many faculty, staff and students have participated in the development of this technology, and will continue to support the energy and marine economy as this project transitions to the private sector. This collaboration exemplifies our role and commitment to creating and supporting the future of Maine.”

UMaine president Joan Ferrini-Mundy.

NEAV will continue to involve Maine companies in permitting, construction and assembly, deployment, and ongoing operations and maintenance of the project. In addition, NEAV has committed to working with the University of Maine on research, development and design to take the technology elsewhere in the U.S. and the world. The concrete hulls are designed to be built in communities adjacent to potential projects, generating local construction jobs and other benefits during the building and assembly phase.

The project is projected to produce more than $150 million in total economic output and create hundreds of Maine-based jobs during the construction period.

“Cianbro has been a founding member of the Aqua Ventus team for over ten years and we remain deeply supportive and committed to the development of offshore wind in Maine. We look forward to working with the NEAV team and all related stakeholders to complete the initial demonstration unit.”

Pete Vigue, chairman of The Cianbro Companies.

The developers also will work with the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy to attract K–12 students to science, engineering and business programs, prepare college students and help to create a skilled workforce in Maine with the technical skills necessary to support offshore wind development and operation.

“We are pleased to partner with the university to bring its ideas for floating offshore wind to fruition. This project south of Monhegan is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate a new technology that can be built in Maine, create jobs in Maine, and demonstrate how fishing and offshore wind can co-exist. Together with RWE, our engineers conducted an extensive due-diligence review of UMaine’s VolturnUS floating wind technology, and believe it is a world leader in floating wind that reduces costs and creates local jobs. We are really focused on creating economic opportunities for Maine as this new carbon-free economy emerges.”

Chris Wissemann of Diamond Offshore Wind.

“We see great potential for floating wind farms worldwide, especially in countries like the U.S., with deeper coastal waters. This innovative project combines the University of Maine’s knowledge with the state’s maritime heritage, allowing RWE Renewables to gain the experience that can help us provide future opportunities to grow local economies and produce clean, renewable power.”

Sven Utermöhlen, chief operating officer, Wind Offshore Global of RWE Renewables.
Anela Dokso

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