Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the University of Maine (UMaine) has been awarded $1,398,202 through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. This funding will help UMaine design an ultra-lightweight, corrosion-resistant, concrete floating offshore wind turbine equipped with NASA motion mitigation technology originally developed to reduce vibrations in rockets. UMaine has adapted this technology to counteract motion, leading to lighter platforms, increased turbine performance, and a lower cost of energy.
“The Gulf of Maine has tremendous potential as a source of affordable, renewable wind energy, which would create thousands of new jobs and diversify our state’s electricity supply,” said Senators Collins and King. “We are thrilled that the Department of Energy continues to recognize UMaine’s leadership in floating, offshore wind technology and the enormous potential this research and development would bring to a clean energy economy.”
"We are very appreciative that ARPA-E has selected UMaine for this very highly competitive award. With this funding, we plan to further stabilize our floating wind turbine hull in extreme storms by integrating NASA rocket vibration suppression technology into the design. This will help lighten the hull and further decrease our already very low electricity costs," said Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. "This work builds on our 12 years of experience in floating wind technology and provides a whole new direction that could further revolutionize the design."
Senators Collins and King have supported UMaine’s offshore wind program and development of the New England Aqua Ventus I project since its announcement in 2016. As one of UMaine’s signature projects, New England Aqua Ventus I may soon be the first floating, deepwater offshore wind development in the United States.
As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins worked to secure $428 million—an increase of $62 million above the fiscal year (FY) 2019 enacted level—for ARPA-E in the FY2020 Energy and Water Funding Bill. ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too high-risk for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways for Americans to get, store, and use energy.