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Senator Collins, Energy Secretary Praise UMaine’s Offshore Wind, Advanced Manufacturing R&D at Appropriations Hearing

Secretary Granholm: “The University of Maine…has been doing some amazing work, not just in offshore wind, but in materials…you've got a great university there.”

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A on offshore wind turbines.  

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A on advanced composite manufacturing.  


Washington, D.C.—At an appropriations subcommittee hearing examining the Energy Department’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, U.S. Senator Susan Collins questioned U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the steps her Department is taking to support the cutting-edge research being conducted by the University of Maine.


The University of Maine is spearheading a world-class consortium that is responsible for groundbreaking advancements in floating offshore wind technology.  Senator Collins has been a longtime supporter of UMaine’s leadership in the deep water offshore wind industry and has championed one of UMaine’s signature projects, the New England Aqua Ventus I.  Offshore wind has the potential to support more than 2,000 jobs in Maine alone.


“The University is pioneering a new era of energy independence by harnessing powerful, deep water offshore winds through one of the Energy Department's offshore wind demonstration projects,” said Senator Collins.  “[O]nce completed, this project, which is known as Aqua Ventus, will deploy the nation's first floating deep water offshore wind turbines off the coast of Maine.  I want to urge you to focus on this kind of technology…which is being developed at the University of Maine, in addition to the work the Department is doing on conventional fixed bottom, offshore wind projects.  How is the Department prioritizing the advancement of domestic innovative, clean energy technologies, particularly in the floating offshore wind space?”


“I share your enthusiasm about offshore wind, and the University of Maine, honestly, has been doing some amazing work, not just in offshore wind, but in materials. And you know, you've got a great university there,” Secretary Granholm responded.  “We are excited both about offshore and fixed bottom….I just came from an offshore wind conference on the Atlantic in New Jersey, where the offshore wind world was there looking at both of these technologies and prioritizing both of them…And we're learning from what our own great minds at the University of Maine are producing.  We look forward to the continued relationship with the University of Maine on this because you are at the forefront.”


Senator Collins has also been a strong advocate of UMaine’s research and development of advanced composite materials and manufacturing methods, including large-scale additive (“3D”) manufacturing and the manufacturing of bio based composites, which have the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing sector and energize Maine’s forest products industry.


“I appreciate the fact that there is more than $582 million for advanced manufacturing in the Department's budget request,” Senator Collins remarked.  “Starting in fiscal year 2019, DOE awarded $20 million in funding to support a truly innovative collaboration between the University of Maine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  And through this partnership, the University of Maine has secured the world's largest 3D printer and recently printed the world's largest 3D printed boat at 25 feet and 5,000 pounds.  They also are working with the Department of Defense to produce vessels that could be used to transport cargo for our armed forces.  And this is some very exciting collaboration between one of our national labs and the University of Maine.  And the great thing about it is not only does it produce innovation, but it supports job growth in the forest products industry, manufacturing, composites, wind, boat building. Could you discuss how the Department plans to maintain and foster these kinds of collaborations between our national labs and universities that will help us maintain America's leadership in advanced manufacturing?”


“…[A]gain, pointing to the University of Maine as leading the way,” Secretary Graham replied.  “I mean, the Oak Ridge National Lab, which has this great expertise in additive manufacturing, and the fact that the University is supplying also next-generation talent. So it's really a full spectrum.  And that Oak Ridge also works…it's a facility that works with the private sector as well, having a great manufacturing site there that allows for them to be able to take advantage of their additive manufacturing, their 3D printing machines.  Just to link this conversation with the previous question because the 3D printing of wind turbine blades, for example, using bio based materials, will be able to make sure that the lifecycle of wind turbine blades means that it can be recycled eventually. So the combination of all of these technologies is where the DOE sweet spot is, and being able to ensure that next generation of students, the STEM students that we need for our labs and for our scientific endeavors, see it in action.”




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