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Recent Press Releases

Dec 12 2012

Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Project Receives Significant Boost from Department of Energy

Senator Collins has been a strong advocate for developing deepwater, offshore wind technology; Project has potential to create 20,000 jobs over time

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Department of Energy (DOE) contacted Senator Susan Collins today to inform her that the Department will make a significant grant award to the University of Maine team working to develop a deepwater floating offshore wind energy project off the Coast of Maine.  This is the culmination of years of efforts by Senator Collins to secure funding to support the University’s research and development that will result in good-paying jobs for thousands of Mainers.

 

                “I am thrilled that the innovative deepwater offshore wind initiative, New England Aqua Ventus I, led by the University of Maine, is one of just seven projects from nearly 70 teams that initially expressed interest, selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for this competitive federal grant.  This extremely important announcement is a vital step that could eventually help harness the vast potential of deepwater offshore wind energy and lead to the potential creation of some 20,000 new jobs,” said Senator Collins, who has been a long-time supporter of the deepwater offshore wind initiative at UMaine and championed it at the federal level.

 

          "The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "Today's announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diverse domestic energy portfolio that develops every source of American energy."

 

          “The funding announced today is the key to the ignition of one of the most exciting projects ever undertaken by the State of Maine.  And that key was presented to us by Senator Collins.  In all my years at the University of Maine, I have never seen one of our elected officials work so skillfully and tirelessly to achieve a singular goal.  Senator Collins saw what we saw -- a project with potential to generate vast amounts of clean energy and to create good jobs and spark economic development – and she made it happen.  We cannot thank her enough,” says Dr. Habib Dagher, Director of UMaine’s Composites Center.

 

          The UMaine-led project will receive up to $4 million to complete the engineering, design and permitting phase of this award.  The project will then compete for one of three additional awards of up to $47 million each over four years to focus on siting, construction and installation and that aim to achieve commercial operation by the year 2017.

 

“The New England Aqua Ventus I initiative is being carried out under Dr. Dagher’s leadership at UMaine working with a consortium of Maine educational institutions and businesses.  It is a key transformative technology that would allow Maine to be a global leader in offshore wind energy. I have worked hard to engage the U.S. Department of Energy in this exciting initiative and to help secure critical federal seed funding to advance this significant endeavor.  Maine has been at the forefront of deepwater floating turbine technology, and I am confident Maine will be at the forefront of making deepwater offshore wind a hallmark of U.S. energy innovation,” said Senator Collins.

 

The team, known as New England Aqua Ventus I, is comprised of the Universities of Maine and Massachusetts as well as the Maine Maritime Academy; Iberdrola, the largest wind developer in the world; Ershigs, Inc, the largest composite material fabricator in the U.S.; Central Maine Power; T.Y. Lin International, a leader in pre-stressed concrete design; Cianbro, Bath Iron Works and Maine engineering firms; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; and Technip, which manufactured the first floating wind turbine hull in the world.  Earlier this year, New England Aqua Ventus I, submitted a proposal to DOE to move forward with a plan to build a commercial offshore wind farm off the coast of New England.  Given its significant work and advancements in research in this area, under the leadership of Dr. Dagher and the University of Maine, the New England Aqua Ventus I application was well positioned to compete for this significant federal investment.

 

Background

 

            Deepwater, offshore wind is one of the most promising renewable energy technologies in the country.  It has the potential to position the U.S. as a leader in the field of clean energy development and create jobs.   The U.S. has nearly 2,500 gigawatts of offshore wind potential within 50 nautical miles of shore, but more than half of this resource is in waters deeper than 200 feet.  Unlocking this vast resource requires the development of new turbines and platforms that can stand up to this difficult environment.  The development of this resource would attract an estimated $20 billion in investment to our state and create some 20,000 good-paying jobs over time.

 

            On March 20, 2012, the Department of Energy announced the availability of $180 million over six years to capture the potential of wind energy off American coasts.  The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for U.S. Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects as part of an effort to diversify America’s energy portfolio and create a robust offshore wind energy industry in the United States.  The FOA can be found here:  https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/#FoaId5bfa6fc8-0b9b-4983-868d-5ec8537a585a.

 

            Senator Collins has been the leading supporter of the New England Aqua Ventus I proposal submitted by the University of Maine and their partners.  In July 2012, Senator Collins wrote to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, urging support for the Aqua Ventus application.  At Senator Collins’ request, both Secretary Chu and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have visited the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center in Orono.

 

            In June 2010, Senator Collins invited Secretary Chu to visit the University of Maine's Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center to learn more about its cutting-edge, deepwater, offshore wind energy research program.  Senator Collins and Secretary Chu spent the day touring the facility, meeting with stakeholders, and talking with Maine energy exhibitors at a technology fair at the lab.  Following that visit, the Department of Energy announced that it would dedicate $20 million to develop and test deepwater offshore wind technologies-the first time ever that the Department has dedicated specific funding for deepwater offshore wind energy research and development.  As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins has worked to help ensure that this funding would be awarded to UMaine.

          Prior to today’s grant award, Senator Collins had already helped secure a total of $25 million in federal funding for Maine’s Deepwater Offshore Wind Initiative.  In October 2009, DOE awarded an $8 million grant to UMaine to support its efforts.  Also, in January 2010, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology awarded $12.4 million for construction of a new Advanced Nanocomposites in Renewable Energy Laboratory at the University’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.  In addition, Senator Collins helped secure $5 million in funding for this initiative as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which was signed into law on October 28, 2009.

            On March 14, 2012, Senator Collins attended the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Secretary Chu to discuss how Congress and DOE can work together to advance new solutions to meet the nation’s energy challenges, particularly DOE's efforts to advance deepwater offshore wind technology.  This exchange can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cWhlwOcxnQ.

 

            Senator Collins also stressed the importance of developing offshore wind technology and praised the work being done in Maine on February 29, 2012 at a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with the Secretary of the Interior Salazar.  The exchange can be found here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfoYVYeldVo.