The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an energy and water funding bill that includes support for several research and development projects at the University of Maine.
The bill is expected to provide funding for UMaine’s offshore wind energy demonstration project, Aqua Ventus, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Also included is support for a program to create energy-efficient, high-rise mass timber building systems.
Collins is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, which advanced the fiscal year 2020 funding bill yesterday.
As one of UMaine’s signature projects, New England Aqua Ventus I may soon be the first floating, deepwater offshore wind turbines in the United States. Aqua Ventus is one of two offshore wind demonstration projects included under a $10 million provision for large turbines. The bill also includes $4 million for manufacturing large wind blades. Part of the manufacturing process is expected to utilize UMaine’s new 3D printer, to produce portions of the blades and their molds.
In June, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law an offshore wind-power development bill that required Maine's Public Utilities Commission to approve the contract for the Aqua Ventus project. In the pilot, supported by $39.9 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy, the turbines are to be assembled in Maine and floated off the coast, where they will provide clean energy for the state.
"This is outstanding news for renewable ocean energy research and development for Maine and for the country,” Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said in the release.
“This funding will ensure that Maine and the U.S. will continue to lead in developing offshore wind technology, mitigate climate change and create thousands of green energy jobs. Harnessing just 3% of the Gulf of Maine offshore wind resource is enough to heat every home in Maine and convert every car into electricity, allowing us to keep more than $3 billion per year in Maine.”
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