State Submits Federal Lease Application for Small Scale Floating Offshore Wind Research Site


The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) last Friday submitted an application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to lease a 15.2 square mile area nearly 30 miles offshore in the Gulf of Maine for the nation’s first floating offshore wind research site in federal waters.

The State hopes to deploy a small-scale research array to 12 or fewer wind turbines in innovative floating hulls designed at the University of Maine.  This project will advance the University of Maine’s potential technology and will foster leading research into how floating offshore wind interacts with Maine’s marine environment, fishing industry, shipping and navigation routes, and more.

For more than a decade, the University of Maine has pioneered design and development of floating, concrete hull technology for offshore wind turbines called Voltumus, with the goal of creating a vibrant Maine-based floating offshore wind industry.  Floating platforms are considered essential technology for deep-water offshore wind energy.

The area of the research site is limited to 15.2 square miles, which is smaller than initial projections and which represents approximately .04% of the 36,000 square-mile Gulf of Maine.  This limited site is 29 miles from the nearest mainland point of Cape Small in Sagadahoc County, 23 miles from Monhegan and 45 miles from Portland.  It was selected following an extreme public outreach process led by GEO, which included an analysis by the Maine Department of Marine Resources that helped identify areas that minimized known potential impacts on the fishing industry.

“Maine is uniquely prepared to create good-paying jobs across the state and reduce our crippling dependence on fossil fuels through the responsible development of offshore wind technology,” said Governor Janet Mills.  “This small-scale research site 30 miles off the coast will become home to innovative technology developed here in Maine.  The research project will help establish the best way for our state to embrace the vast economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind.  Fundamentally, I believe that offshore wind and Maine’s fishing industry can not only coexist, but can help us build a stronger economy and a brighter, more sustainable future for Maine people.

The application was filed last week following bipartisan support by the Maine Legislature for ID 336, sponsored by Senator Mark Lawrence, D-York. which declared the research array is in the public interest and authorized the Maine Public Utilities Commission to negotiate a power purchase agreement with the University’s offshore wind development partner, New England Aqua Venus.