MAINE, USA — On Oct. 1st, the Governor's Energy Office (GEO) submitted an application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to lease federal ocean waters to be used for floating offshore wind research. The GEO asked for a 15.2-square-mile offshore area in the Gulf of Maine. If approved, this would be the country's first floating offshore wind research site located in federal waters.
Habib Dagher, Ph.D., executive director for the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, said their plan is to first build a single turbine off Monhegan Island by 2024. That turbine would be the only one allowed in Maine's state waters, according to a bill signed by Governor Mills in July. The bill prevents new offshore wind turbines to be deployed in state waters, which is within 3 miles of the coastline.
Once that turbine is installed and tested, the next step involves launching the Maine Research Array, or the application just submitted by the Governor's Energy Office.
This project, if approved, would deploy no more than 12 floating wind turbines developed and created at the University of Maine's Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab.
The lab features a wave basin and wind machine that simulates powerful and severe storms. It allows researchers at the university to test how these wind turbines would fair in ocean waters in various conditions.
If approved, these floating wind turbines would be installed at least 28 miles off the nearest mainland point of Cape Small in Sagadahoc County, 23 miles south of Monhegan Island, and 45 miles off the coast of Portland.
The site would give researchers a closer look at how these turbines affect Maine's marine life and fishing industry.
"If we harness just 3% of the offshore wind resource in the Gulf of Maine, we can heat every home in Maine and drive every car," Dagher sai.
Dagher said there are a number of benefits to using this source of power statewide.
"We can create thousands of jobs, we can clean up the environment, we can be self-reliant on our own resources in Maine instead of having to buy oil... At the same time, we're going to have a profound impact on our environmental footprint as a state," Dagher said.
Dagher said he is hopeful a decision will be made by the Bureau of Ocean Management on the lease application within a year.
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