Off the coast of Castine, Maine the first grid-connected offshore floating wind turbine prototype was acknowledged by the Energy Department. This is another significant step forward in the growth of the offshore wind power industry and it represents the first concrete-composite floating platform wind turbine to be deployed in the world.
“Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s all-of-the-above strategy to pave the way to a cleaner and more diverse domestic energy portfolio,” said Jose Zayas, director of the Energy Department’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office. “The Castine offshore wind project represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry, helping to bring tremendous untapped energy resources to market and create new jobs across the country.”
With such enormous untapped wind resources offered through offshore wind production the potential power that may be harnessed will quadruple. To best maximise that potential the offshore rigs will be located in deeper waters and this means the more conventional turbine technology will not be practical for use. This is where the floating platform turbine technology becomes very important.
This particular prototype is the result of the work done by the University of Maine and its project partners and deployed a 65-foot-tall VoturnUS prototype turbine. The size of the turbine is 1:8 scale to the size of a commercial installation. While it is its present operation it will be used to gather data to help improve the design of future floating turbines. The aim is to address technical problems that may be faced as well as reducing costs of future installations.
The goal of the program is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to 10 cents / kWh by 2020. This will enable the electricity production to compete with other types of electricity generation without subsidies.
The DeepCwind Consortium
The large scale research and development program that has brought the project to this point has been performed under the name DeepCwind Consortium Research Program. It is a public-private partnership that has been funded by the Department of Energy, The National Science Foundation – Partnerships for Innovation, the Maine Technology Institute, the State of Maine as well as 30 industrial partners.
The aim of the DeepCwind Consortium is to establish Maine as the leader in deepwater offshore wind technology. The various partners offer expertise in areas such as wind project siting, environmental analysis, environmental law, composite materials which are necessary to combat corrosion, energy investment.
Offshore Advantages Over Onshore Wind
According to Habib J. Dagher, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Maine the big advantage with offshore wind power over the onshore creation is that the majority of onshore wind energy production occurs overnight when it is least valuable to power utilities. An offshore wind turbine will generate the majority of its power in the afternoon when strong onshore breezes form. These breezes are far more predictable too because the land heats up more than the sea which is how the breezes are formed.
Follow the links provided below to find out more about the Castine Project and the DeepCwind Consortium.
University of Maine – one of the joint venture partners
DeepCwind Consortium – the name of the collaboration
Department of Energy – funding provider
National Science Foundation – read about the Partnerships for Innovation incentive
Maine Technology Institute – another DeepCwind partner