Offshore wind research center proposed for University of Maine

Maine governor, senators, representatives meet with U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to request $20 million in stimulus funds for national offshore wind program off coast of Maine.

Maine Governor John Baldacci joined Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Maine Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree at a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on June 5 at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. to propose a National Deepwater Offshore Wind Research Center to be operated by the University of Maine. Dr. Habib Dagher, UMaine professor and director of the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center (AEWC), also attended the meeting in Secretary Chu’s office.

After the meeting, the governor and congressional delegation issued the following statement: “Today we presented Secretary Chu with an ambitious proposal for a National Deepwater Offshore Wind Research Center to be operated by the University of Maine. Maine has the natural resources, the technology, the skills and the hard-working people to become a world leader in wind energy. Locating a National Deepwater Research Center in Maine will give our state a big advantage in the race to develop deepwater, offshore wind energy.”

The Governor and Congressional Delegation asked Secretary Chu to allocate $20 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the first year of the project, and asked him to support additional Congressional funding over the next four years. The goal of the National Deepwater Offshore Wind Research Center would be to enable the design and testing of a large-scale floating offshore wind platform that could serve as the basis of a large-scale offshore wind industry.

The Research Center would include a facility at the University of Maine as well as a coastal and offshore test facility. Maine is particularly well-suited as a site for a Wind Research Center for a number of reasons:

•     Legislation signed by the governor and ongoing wind power developments show Maine’s commitment to developing wind power.

•     The University of Maine’s Composites Lab has become a national leader in the technology needed to build offshore wind power.

•     Maine also has a significant portion of the nation’s wind resources off the coast and more deep water closer to shore than any other East Coast state.

•     The men and women who work in Maine’s boatbuilding, shipbuilding and commercial fishing industries can use their skills and experience to build offshore wind power.

“Maine has what it will take to develop the technology and build the large, floating structures that will be needed for an offshore wind industry,” the group said. “This is an opportunity for Maine to lead the nation in developing a new source of clean, renewable energy.”

Source: U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME)