The potential for offshore wind and floating wind technology has made headlines in Maine for years now. As the Bangor Daily News continues to write about the topic, we would like to know the public’s questions about the developing technology that will likely be used off the coast in the coming years, so we can do our best to answer them.
There is an ongoing race nationwide to develop offshore wind energy, which is seen as the next major energy source for the country. Just this week California held the first leasing auction for wind farms off its coast, and dozens of companies submitted their bids for different projects. Currently there are only two offshore wind farms in the United States, in Rhode Island and Virginia.
Maine, abundant in natural resources, has a unique advantage in this sector. The Gulf of Maine has the highest sustained wind speeds globally, according to the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative, which the Governor’s Energy Office is leading to pursue development of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine. Engineers and government officials here believe Maine has the potential to be both a national and international leader in offshore wind energy.
Habib Dagher, the founding executive director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, is leading a 40-person team to develop floating offshore wind technology to be used in the Gulf of Maine. These would be the first turbines of their kind to be developed in the United States.
Currently, the team is supporting the state of Maine and federal agencies to determine the best sites off the coast of Maine for the turbines, as well as a location for a construction facility to fabricate, assemble and deploy the hulls. The first 11-megawatt floating offshore wind turbine could be deployed into the water by 2025, with its construction planned for about a year from now.
The endeavor is significant because Maine is currently working toward a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and has a statutory target of 80 percent clean energy by 2030, just seven years away. It will reach 48 percent clean energy by the end of this year, according to the Maine Climate Council’s climate action plan dashboard. The state also has a statutory target to reach 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2045.
With these aggressive climate goals, the state plans to diversify its renewable energy sources to a combination of solar, hydro-electric, biomass, and both onshore and offshore wind.
But offshore wind turbines have generated criticism from fishermen who worry about how marine life will be affected and their ability to fish safely in the waters. Others have also protested potential locations for where the underwater cables supplying the energy might be deployed.
For this reason, the BDN is following plans for floating offshore wind development closely and wants to ensure it provides you with the transparency and coverage you need to stay informed.
What are your most pressing questions, concerns or comments about this major, ongoing development in Maine?
Please fill out the following survey, and the BDN will rely on your questions and ideas as it continues to report on offshore wind.
Mehr Sher is a Report for America corps member. Additional support for this reporting is provided by the Unity Foundation and donations by BDN readers.