At Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Appropriations Committee, discussed the University of Maine’s wind energy project, Aqua Ventus, and the importance of offshore wind energy at an Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. The Subcommittee questioned U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry on the DOE’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request.
During the hearing, Senator Collins expressed her opposition to the Administration’s proposal to significantly cut funding for the DOE’s Wind Energy Program and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
“Today, nearly 16,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity and more than 4,000 offshore wind turbines have been installed in Europe alone. In comparison, only 30 megawatts of offshore wind has been installed in our country,” said Senator Collins. “The problem is that the United States is falling farther behind in the global race to harness clean renewable offshore wind energy. And yet the irony is within 50 miles off the U.S. shores, there is enough offshore wind capacity to power the country four times over, and nearly 60 percent of that capacity can be harnessed by using floating offshore wind technologies.”
“This is an area where a consortium led by the University of Maine is leading the way, and I'm very excited about this possibility,” Senator Collins continued. “I would ask you: is the Department prioritizing the advancement of offshore floating wind turbines as part of its domestic innovative clean energy technologies?”
“The Maine Aqua Ventus project I think is a really important step… they've been a very good partner—integral partner—with us at DOE,” responded Secretary Perry. “To empower states…to go develop these alternative sources of energy, whether its advanced nuclear reactors or whether it’s these offshore wind platforms, is very, very wise for us as a country.”
Senator Collins has worked to advance the cutting-edge research performed at UMaine. She helped secure substantial funding for the Wind Energy Program, including support for the offshore wind demonstration projects, in the FY 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
Maine Aqua Ventus I, GP, LLC, is leading a demonstration project called New England Aqua Ventus I, a floating offshore wind pilot project to develop a clean, renewable energy source off Maine’s shores. This demonstration project will deploy two turbines, the floating concrete semi-submersible hull designed by UMaine, south of Monhegan Island. Each floating hull/turbine is held in position by three marine mooring lines securely anchored to the seabed, with the electrical generation connected by subsea cable to the Maine power grid on shore.
Maine Aqua Ventus has received approximately $13 million from the DOE and is eligible for additional federal funding after meeting project milestones, subject to progress reviews. The New England Aqua Ventus I demonstration project will likely be the first deepwater floating offshore wind project in the Americas.