This year, the University of Maine was granted $1.4 million to go toward floating offshore renewable wind energy technology. This competitive award is meant for projects that will make wind turbine technology more efficient and has been granted to 12 other programs around the United States to fund the pursuit of renewable energy. The award was announced by Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins.
To go forward with this project, the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center will be using technology from NASA that was originally designed to be used in rockets to help monitor and manage vibrations caused during use. This technology, used in the floating turbines, will counteract the turbine’s motions and will allow for lighter platforms, increased turbine production and lower cost of energy. The combination of the motion monitoring technology and floating turbine platforms is a new method that could revolutionize the process of adapting floating wind turbines.
“With this funding, we plan to further stabilize our floating wind turbine hull in extreme storms by integrating NASA rocket vibration suppression technology into the design,” Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said. “This will help lighten the hull and further decrease our already very low electricity costs.”
UMaine has had years to anticipate how to implement a project like this. Over the last 12 years, UMaine has been designing and implementing the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in the U.S. As the university develops more wind turbine technology, it will be tested in the Harold Alfond W2 Wind-Wave Ocean Engineering Laboratory.
“This program will leverage the unique design, numerical modeling and scale model testing expertise located at the UMaine Harold Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory to significantly advance this concept and offer a cost-competitive solution to industry” Anthony Viselli, the manager of offshore model testing and structural design at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said.
This program will give the UMaine engineers the experience that is needed for other projects like this. If the university is able to successfully implement an offshore wind turbine, the engineers will be able to generate data on the effectiveness of the model. This will then allow them to move forward with other technology to harvest renewable energy. This project will also hopefully be the first of similar designs.
As Maine pushes toward more renewable energy options, technology like floating turbines could revolutionize the way that power is generated throughout the state and throughout the nation. The Gulf of Maine is famous for its powerful winds, and by generating wind power in the Gulf of Maine, floating turbines could potentially generate enough power to heat every home in Maine and provide electricity for electric cars.
Another hope is that this project will lead to many more floating turbines and may even lead to the first offshore grid that contains only floating turbines.