University of Maine wins $8 million grant for offshore wind research

The $8 million Department of Energy grant will be matched by as much as $14 million from public/private partners; research will focus on three floating turbines to be located off the Maine coast.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced on Oct. 15 that it has awarded an $8 million grant for deepwater offshore wind research to the University of Maine. This grant is the result of Senator Susan Collins' (R-Maine) work with DoE Secretary Steven Chu to help fund the development, deployment, and testing of three wind turbines in the deep water off the Maine coast. In June, Senator Collins arranged a meeting between herself and Secretary Chu, University of Maine Professor Habib Dagher, a leading researcher in composite technology, Governor Baldacci, the rest of the Maine delegation to discuss renewable energy and energy efficiency demonstration projects in Maine.

The Department of Energy Wind Energy Consortia grant is being awarded to a public-private partnership led by the University of Maine. The $8 million grant is expected to be matched by $14 million in additional investment from other federal funding sources, the university, state government and industry to fund research and development of floating offshore wind turbine platforms. More than 30 public and private partners, from the University of Maine and Maine Maritime Academy to Bath Iron Works and Cianbro Corp., joined together to form the consortium that was awarded the grant.

"Wind power has the potential to provide 20 percent of our nation's electricity and create hundreds of thousands of jobs," said Secretary Chu in announcing the grant. "We need to position the United States as the clear leader in this industry, or watch these high-paying jobs go overseas. The investment we're making today will help ensure that America has both the talent and the technology we need to compete."

In addition, the U.S. Senate has given its final approval to the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations conference report that includes Senator Collins' request for $5 million for the Maine Deep Offshore Wind Initiative at UMaine. The original House version of the bill did not include the funding, but Senator Collins, who is a member of the Appropriations Committee, was able to successfully secure the provision in the Senate version of the bill. This bill is now expected to be signed by President Obama.

"This is a great day for Maine, the University of Maine, green energy and for jobs in our state," said Senator Collins. "The University of Maine is on track to become a national leader in offshore wind technology. Our state is the ideal location for deepwater offshore wind research because we have some of the strongest and most consistent winds in the nation off our shore. I am delighted that I was able to secure $5 million for UMaine's Deep Offshore Wind project in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill and I am excited about the grant announced by the Department of Energy. The University has already made great strides in this research which has the potential to diversify Maine's energy supply, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of new jobs," said Senator Collins.