In a Win for UMaine, Energy and Water Funding Bill Includes Provisions Championed by Senator Collins to Support Critical Research Projects

The bill will provide funding to support offshore wind energy, 3D printing with wood products, and mass timber research.

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced today that the full committee advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2020 energy and water funding bill by a vote of 31-0.  The legislation includes provisions led by Senator Collins to support several research and development projects at the University of Maine (UMaine), including support for the offshore wind energy demonstration project, Aqua Ventus, a research collaboration with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to advance efforts to 3D print with wood products, and a program on energy efficient high-rise mass timber building systems.

 

“The University of Maine has incredible research and development programs that are making a real difference.  Investment in this cutting-edge research will position the U.S. as a global leader, create good jobs, and strengthen our economy.  This legislation supports the students and scientists at UMaine who are discovering environmentally-friendly and cost-effective ways to power our homes, expand the use of wood products, and construct energy efficient buildings,” said Senator Collins.  “I am excited about the advancements being made at UMaine to support advanced manufacturing and 3D printing, which has the potential to support job growth across our nation.  As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought to include these provisions and am proud to continue to support the excellent initiatives underway at UMaine.” 

 

"This is outstanding news for renewable ocean energy research and development for Maine and for the country.  This funding will ensure that Maine and the U.S. will continue to lead in developing offshore wind technology, mitigate climate change, and create thousands of green energy jobs.  Harnessing just three percent of the Gulf of Maine offshore wind resource is enough to heat every home in Maine and convert every car into electricity, allowing us to keep more than $3 billion per year in Maine," said Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

 

"Funding for the UMaine - Oak National Labs collaboration is terrific news.  It will allow us to use wood in large-scale 3D printing, creating new opportunities for the wood products industry.  One goal is to develop materials that can print at 500lbs/hours using cellulose and nanocellulose derived from our wood resource," Dr. Dagher added.

 

The FY 2020 energy and water funding bill provides $48.86 billion, an increase of approximately $4 billion above the FY 2019 enacted level.  Provisions championed by Senator Collins to benefit UMaine include:

  • Wind Energy: The bill includes a total of $100 million for wind energy, including $50 million specifically directed for offshore wind.  Additionally, Senators Collins and Angus King (I-ME) have supported the New England Aqua Ventus I 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.

 

  • Larger Turbines: The bill supports an additional $10 million for two offshore wind demonstration projects, including UMaine’s Aqua Ventus.  To ensure the project’s success, an additional 18 months of time was provided.

 

  • Wind Blades: The bill supports $4 million for the additive manufacturing of large wind blades, which UMaine’s new 3D printer will be able to print the molds for. UMaine will be able to create the molds, portions of the blades, and test under one roof with the goal of faster innovation in wind blades with less cost.

 

  • Advanced Manufacturing - Bio-Based Composites: The bill supports $20 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Office.  This funding will be used for the development of additive manufacturing involving nano-cellulose feedstock materials, which are made from forest products. This will support the UMaine-ORNL partnership.  In May, Senators Collins, King, and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced the launch of this large-scale bio-based additive manufacturing program

 

  • Building Technologies Office - Energy Efficient High-Rise Mass Timber Building Systems:  The bill includes $5 million for the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center, UMaine’s program to research and construct mass timber, or Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), which can be used for the construction of tall wood buildings.  Following an Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) report requested in March 2016 by Senators Collins and King, the Economic Development Administration awarded grant funding to create the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center. The facility aims to create a center for forest industry partners, construction firms, and other stakeholders to come together to advance new forest product technologies in Maine.