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2/28/2011 | 2 MINUTE READ

Maine report evaluates deepwater wind turbine feasibility

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University of Maine and DeepCwind report, funded by the Department of Energy, highlights potential of offshore wind resources near Maine coast and outlines five-phase, 20-year plan for deployment of floating wind farms.

The University of Maine (UMaine, Orono, Maine, USA) has issued the "Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Report," funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and co-authored by James W. Sewall Co. The report indicates that deepwater offshore floating wind energy systems are feasible and affordable. The report highlights a timeline for testing and development of floating turbines, beginning in 2012.

The report consists of a preliminary study of the feasibility of developing an up to 30-MW “stepping stone” floating offshore wind project and larger commercial-scale (100 to 300 MW) in federal waters off the coast of Maine. It provides key information to developers to help prepare successful bids in response to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) request for proposals (RFP) issued in September 2010, with proposals due by May 1, 2011. 

The state of Maine has 156 GW of wind energy within 50 nautical miles (93 km) of its coast. Of those 156 GW, 80 percent is located in water more than 200 ft/61m deep — too deep for wind turbine support systems to be anchored in the ocean floor using traditional systems. Thus, Maine and the DeepCwind consortium plans to construct a 5-GW, $20 billion network of floating wind farms 20 to 50 nautical miles (37 to 93 km) from shore. The goal is to develop offshore wind energy competitive with other energy forms on a dollar per kilowatt-hour (kwh) basis by 2020.

The report specifies a five-phase plan

  • Phase 1: 2012, deployment by UMaine and DeepCwind of a 1:3 scale floating turbine, with 100-ft/30m tower, located near Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. Also during this time, the University of Maine will establish an offshore wind lab.
  • Phase 2: 2011-2015, calls for construction and installation of two to four more 1:3 scale units, also by UMaine and DeepCwind.
  • Phase 3: 2013-2016, calls for five 5-MW turbines in a "stepping stone" floating farm 10 to 50 nautical miles (18.5 to 93 km) offshore. Deployment will be done by a developer with UMaine and DeepCwind help.
  • Phase 4: 2017-2020, expand stepping stone farm to a 500-MW to 1,000-MW farm (200 turbines at 5-MW each). Developer only.
  • Phase 5: 2020-2030, build four to eight farms, each 500 MW to 1,000 MW, with total installed capacity of 5,000 MW by 2030. Developer only.

Cost of this wind energy, according to the report, will be $0.08 to $0.10 per kwh at the point of generation, with cost to the consumer expected to be $0.13 to $0.16 per kwh with transmission and distribution costs included. This is expected to be on par with other energy source costs by 2020.


Download: Visit www.deepcwind.org/offshorewindreport to download the full report.