First US offshore wind turbine feeds into the grid

Wednesday, 3 July, 2013 - 14:45

Since June 13, the first US offshore wind turbine feeds power into the grid. The VolturnUS 1:8, a 65-foot-tall floating turbine prototype that is 1:8th the scale of a 6 MW 423-foot rotor diameter design, was designed and built at the University of Maine (UMaine), assembled at Cianbro’s facility in Brewer, and towed nearly 30 miles from Brewer to Castine by Maine Maritime Academy. It is anchored off the coast of Castine, Maine in 80 ft of water. 

The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than five years of collaborative research and development conducted by the UMaine-led DeepCwind Consortium. The DeepCwind Consortium is a unique public-private research partnership funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation-Partners for Innovation program, Maine Technology Institute, the State of Maine, the University of Maine and includes more than 30 industry partners.

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“Today will constitute a historic moment for offshore wind in the Americas. At 12:00 pm the first offshore wind electrons will flow into the US electricity grid,” said Habib Dagher, Director of the Advanced Structure and Composites Center at UMaine and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium, during the official ceremony on June 13. Jose Zayas, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office, said in an official statement: “The VolturnUS offshore wind project represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing industry, to bring tremendous untapped energy resources to market and create new jobs across the country.”

Data acquired during the 2013 deployments will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS system. The program goal when the technology is scaled up is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation with no subsidies. Following this test deployment, the next step for the team is to build two 6 MW VolturnUS floating turbines to be moored off Monhegan Island in 2016.


Design for these turbines is currently underway, funded in part through a DOE competition called the Advanced Technology Demonstration Program for Offshore Wind. The UMaine Composites Center has partnered with industry leaders to invest in this 12 MW, US$ 96 million pilot farm called New England Aqua Ventus 1. The deployments this summer will derisk UMaine’s VolturnUS technology in preparation for connecting the first full-scale unit to the grid in 2016.

Maine has 156 GW of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores and a plan to deploy 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030. The 5 GW plan could potentially attract US$ 20 billion of private investment to the state, creating thousands of jobs.

Katharina Garus

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