The Maine Public Utilities Commission has voted unanimously to approve a power purchase agreement for the Aqua Ventus 1 project
Maine Aqua Ventus is a floating wind project to be installed in deep water by University of Maine (UMaine) and its partners. It will use two floating wind turbines located in the Gulf of Maine and although small in scale, is the first of its kind in the US.
The Aqua Ventus 1 project has taken a long time to secure approval, not least because Maine’s former governor, Paul LePage, opposed wind development. His successor, Janet Mills, does not.
Commission chairman Philip Bartlett said, “The Commission is pleased to approve this contract which provides Maine Aqua Ventus 1 with the opportunity to demonstrate commercial viability of its technology while also providing Maine with a new clean renewable energy resource.”
The Commission said it believes Aqua Ventus 1 also has the potential to provide significant benefits to the state’s economy.
In 2019, the Maine legislature enacted into law ‘Resolves 2019, Chapter 87, To Require the Approval by the Public Utilities Commission of a Proposal for a Long-term Contract for Deep-water Offshore Wind Energy.’
The legislation was signed by Governor Mills in June 2019 and required that the Commission approve a contract for Aqua Ventus 1. Governor Mills said the Commission’s approval of the contract was “a major milestone for our state’s clean energy future.
“Thanks to the innovative work of the University of Maine, Aqua Ventus 1 is poised to become the first offshore wind project in the country to feature a floating platform, an advancement that cements our state’s leadership in offshore wind development and that puts Maine on the map for clean energy technology.
“With this key and long-overdue approval, this cutting-edge demonstration project is now on track to move forward and allow us to harness our own clean, renewable source of energy, create jobs, and strengthen our economy,” the Governor said.
The Aqua Ventus 1 project, supported by US$39.9M in grant funds from the US Department of Energy, will deploy floating turbines with substructures designed by the University of Maine, off the coast of the state.
The floating platforms and other components will be assembled in Maine and, once installed, will provide clean energy to Maine and will provide a valuable demonstration for future development in Maine and elsewhere.
In a related development, in September 2019, UMaine was awarded US$1,398,202 through the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) programme to design an ultra-lightweight, corrosion-resistant, floating wind energy platform.
The concrete, semi-submersible floating wind foundation will be equipped with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-developed motion-compensation technology originally developed to reduce vibrations in rockets.
UMaine has adapted the technology to counteract motion, leading to lighter platforms, increased turbine performance, and a lower cost of energy.