Maine Governor John Baldacci  (Source: Recharge News)

  (Source: Windfair)
Three demonstration sites have been chosen in Maine's coastal waters

The U.S. Department of Energy recently gave the state of Maine $20 million for the advancement of deepwater offshore wind energy development, including efforts made by the University of Maine to make components for and test the wind turbines for renewable energy.

"This is where the future lies," said Maine Governor John Baldacci. "We want to become an energy generating center."

The funds were given by the Obama Administration two weeks after U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu visited the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center on June 14. Chu was invited to the campus by Senator Susan Collins, and was able to explore the university's latest developments with wind energy production. 

As far as New England goes, Maine remains the leader in the land-based wind energy industry and plans to become the the main energy exporter to the entire region in 20 years with the help of this deepwater offshore wind energy project. 

"I am pleased that the federal government has affirmed its support for deepwater offshore wind energy potential in general, and the vital work being conducted by the University of Maine specifically," said Baldacci. "Maine is well-positioned to compete for these federal resources because of the leadership we have built over the course of the past two years on deepwater offshore wind energy development."

A group of private and government agencies have selected three sites to use for demonstration purposes of the offshore wind turbines. One will be located in southern Maine near Boon Island, another will be placed south of Boothbay Harbor near Damariscove Island, and the final wind turbine will be located south of Monhegan Island off Port Clyde

According to state regulations, two wind turbines can be placed at the first two sites for five years, and the Monhegan Island site can hold three turbines for seven years. The turbines will be anchored in 300 feet of water up to three miles from each island. 

In addition, the first two sites will be privately owned for the demonstration purposes while the Monhegan Island location will be used by 28 different companies led by Habib Dagher, who is the director of University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center. 

Baldacci's ultimate goal is to achieve the installation of 5 gigwatts by 2030, which is twice the state's energy consumption at present. According to Dagher, Maine has a wind energy potential of 149 gigawatts within 50 miles of the state's coast. 

"We are grateful for this significant level of support," said Baldacci. "The federal government is

an important partner in our efforts to grow green jobs and advance the promise of offshore wind technology."

In addition to this newly acquired $20 million, Dagher's team at the University of Maine received $8 million earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a research center specifically for deepwater offshore wind energy development. 

The first turbines are set to be on site in 2011. At this time, the three demonstration sites will measure the potential to produce power by ocean wave energy as well. 

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