Research Initiative

Floating deepwater wind farms placed ten or more nautical miles (nmi) offshore can play a critical role in reaching the Department of Energy’s 20% windpower goal by 2030. Deepwater offshore wind is the dominant U.S. ocean energy resource, representing a potential of nearly 3,100 TW-h/year, compared to a U.S. electricity use of nearly 3,500 TW-h/year. It also,

  1. Overcomes viewshed issues that have delayed or prevented some nearshore projects.
  2. Places energy generation closer to major U.S. population centers.
  3. Allows access to a more powerful Class 6 and 7 wind resource.
  4. Reduces over time wind energy costs by reducing transmission costs from remote land sites and by simplifying deployment and maintenance logistics.

With these qualities in mind, Maine plans to construct a 5 GW, $20 billion network of floating offshore wind farms to contribute to the northeast U.S. renewable energy needs. Maine has the deepest waters near its shores, approximately 200 ft deep at 3 nmi, and 89% of Maine’s 149 GW offshore wind resource is in deep waters. The state also offers extensive maritime industry infrastructure and proximity to one of the largest energy markets in the country. Maine is an ideal state to lead deepwater offshore wind development.

The Advanced Structures and Composites Center-led DeepCwind Consortium is leading Maine’s endeavors in deepwater offshore wind by focusing on the development of floating offshore wind farm technologies at the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island. The Consortium’s 10-year research, education and commercialization plan builds on a two-year foundation funded by the DOE. The primary objectives in the first two years are to:

  1. Validate coupled aeroelastic-hydrodynamic models for floating offshore wind turbines.
  2. Optimize floating platform designs by integrating more durable, lighter, hybrid composite materials.
  3. Estimate the cost of energy for deepwater offshore wind technologies.
  4. Compare the benefits and costs of innovative composite materials to conventional materials in deepwater offshore wind manufacturing, design, and construction.

These plans include specific tasks for:

  1. Micrositing, geophysical investigations, and geotechnical engineering.
  2. Study of environmental and ecological impacts on benthic invertebrates and sediments, fish, marine mammals, birds and bats, and human populations.
  3. Permitting and policy.
  4. Floating turbine design, material selection, and lab testing.
  5. Offshore turbine testing, monitoring, and reliability.
  6. Education and outreach.
  7. Project management and reporting.
  8. Fabrication and deployment.