The state with maybe the best-untapped potential for harnessing its ocean breezes for electrical energy may quickly have generators spinning off its coast after years of political resistance.
It is a small challenge—as much as two offshore wind generators serving as many as 9,000 houses—however, it could blaze a brand new path: If all goes as deliberate, in 2022, Aqua Ventus will turn into the primary floating offshore wind farm within the nation.
Lower than a year after Democrat Janet Mills replaced Republican Paul LePage as Maine’s governor, state utility regulators accepted a contract this month underneath which the utility Avangrid will purchase the ability generated by Aqua Ventus. The vote followed legislation Mills signed this summertime requiring the Public Utilities Commission to approve the pilot venture, which has been six years within the making.
The challenge is being carefully watched up and down the nation’s coastlines.
Typical offshore wind farms require foundations to be in-built water no deeper than 196 feet, limiting the variety of websites possible for building. Floating platforms would open up website improvement in deeper waters like Maine’s, and farther away from shore.
The know-how could possibly be notably helpful in California, and different states which have lots of shorelines, however, face fierce political stress to take care of property values, mentioned Clifford Kim, an analyst with Moody’s Investors Service who focuses on wind vitality.
The undertaking, developed by a consortium led by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, will take a look at a floating platform that holds as much as two 6-megawatt wind generators, or probably one 10-megawatt turbine, situated 12 miles off the coast of Maine. It’s anticipated to start operations in 2022, a college spokesperson mentioned. The electrical energy shall be carried to the mainland through a cable on the ocean flooring.
Floating offshore wind continues to be a nascent business. Of the handful of pilot initiatives testing the technology around the world, solely one—Equinor’s Hywind, off the coast of Scotland—is absolutely operational and producing not less than 10 megawatts of energy.
The U.S., in distinction, has only one working offshore wind farm—five generators that produce 30 megawatts of electrical energy for Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. However, eight New England and Mid-Atlantic states have set targets to broaden offshore wind energy to simply over 25 gigawatts over the following decade as they pursue formidable local weather change objectives.