The first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in the US was just installed in Brewer, Maine. The 65-foot-tall VolturnUS turbine is a small-scale prototype of a giant 6-megawatt turbine designed by the University of Maine Composites Center that will be used to test the technology before a full-scale unit is connected to the grid in 2016. The researchers behind the project hope that they will be able to cut the cost of offshore wind to 10 cents/kWh by 2020.

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VolturnUS was installed atop a floating semi-submersible concrete base, and was moored just off of Dyce Head in Castine, Maine. The project represents the first concrete-composite floating platform wind turbine in the world. The turbine will be used primarily for study and data collection, and will provide information on the viability of the project. The goal of the project is to cut the cost of offshore wind to 10 cents/kWh by 2020, and introduce it as another electricity generation option without subsidies.

Unlike Europe, where offshore wind harvesting has been extensively explored in the last decade, the US has done relatively little until now to utilize the potential of offshore wind power. The VolturnUS project, followed by the large-scale turbine installation planned for 2016, will help the US tap into its large offshore wind energy potential.

+ UMaine Composites Center

+ U.S. Department of Energy

Via EcoGeek