Maine Governor Janet Mills has unveiled a plan to create what would be the first floating wind research array in the US
The research array in the Gulf of Maine would allow the state to engage the fishing industry’s expertise to minimise potential harm and maximise the benefits to Maine residents from offshore wind.
Governor Mills said, “I believe Maine can lead the country in floating offshore wind technology. But it must be done in partnership with Maine’s fishermen, to form a science-based, mutual understanding of how best to design and operate floating wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine.
“A research area is a prudent step toward securing our state’s leadership position, working collaboratively with fishermen and scientists, and developing offshore wind to realise the significant energy, economic and climate benefits it stands to offer our state.”
The research array is part of the ongoing Maine Offshore Wind Initiative announced by Governor Mills in 2019. In October 2020, the state received a grant from the US Economic Development Agency for the Initiative to support long-term planning for offshore wind with fishery, business, environmental and science representatives, as well as assessing port and infrastructure needs and evaluating the supply chain, manufacturing and workforce opportunities.
The state intends to file an application for the research array with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees renewable energy development in federal waters, which begin more than 4.5 km off the coast.
The array would be located 32 to 64 km offshore in the Gulf of Maine, in an area that would allow a connection to the mainland electric grid in the southern half of the state. The array is expected to include up to 12 floating wind turbines.
Governor Mills has directed the Governor’s Energy Office to work closely with Maine’s commercial fishing industry, the Department of Marine Resources, and other interested parties to determine the site for the research array.
The state’s partners in the research project include the University of Maine, whose floating foundations will be used in the array, and New England Aqua Ventus, a joint venture of Diamond Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, and RWE Renewables, which will lead the array’s development.