Wednesday, 17 July 2013

First floating wind turbine in North America hits the water in Brewer
31 May 2013

BREWER, Maine--VolturnUS, the first offshore floating wind turbine in North America, hit the water Friday.

The University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center unveiled its new turbine at Cianbro in Brewer, where the pieces were assembled and placed in the Penobscot River. A crane lowered the turbine into the water during a ceremony late Friday morning.

"If there's one thing apparent to me today, it's how hungry the people of Maine are for a celebration of success", Cianbro Chairman Peter Vigue said at the beginning of Friday's event, which was attended by members of Maine's Congressional delegation, university and business officials.

Vigue said this project shows Maine is primed to be a leader in renewable energy production in the United States. The effort to get 20 GWs of offshore wind capability by 2030 could bring as much as $20 billion of private investment to Maine and create thousands of jobs, according to UMaine officials.

Maine has 156 GWs of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its coastline, and this is one of the first major visible steps after years of research toward harnessing that energy, according to composites center Director Habib Dagher, who has lead the project since its infancy "We are energy rich, we just haven't taken advantage of this energy richness that we have", Dagher said. The turbine design is called VolturnUS, a combination of the words volt, turn and US, a name that happens to be shared by Volturnus, the Roman god of the east wind.

The 65 foot turbine is a one-eighth scale model of the full-size version UMaine plans to place in the Gulf of Maine by 2016. By 2030, the university hopes to install a farm of roughly 170 huge, 6 MW turbines--each taller than the Washington Monument and with blades longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747 -that would produce 5 GWs of electricity for the mainland. That's roughly equal to the energy five nuclear power plants would provide.

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