DeepCwind unveils floater prototype

The University of Maine-led DeepCwind consortium has unveiled the prototype of a new-look floating wind turbine expected to be the first grid-connected design moored off the coast of the US.

The 1:8-scale model of the VolturnUS will be installed in 24-metres of water off Maine this month to gather data to de-risk the concept, with a view to building a $96m deepwater pilot farm made up of a pair of 6MW models by 2016.

The VolturnUS, which has been in development at the university’s Advanced Structures & Composites Centre for the last five years, is based on a concrete and composite semi-submersible platform mated to a turbine with a 129-metre-diameter rotor.

DeepCwind – a public-private partnership between the National Science Foundation-Partners for Innovation, the Maine Technology Institute, the state of Maine, the University of Maine and more than 30 industry partners – won a $4m Department of Energy grant last year to complete engineering on the project.

Maine is calculated to have as much as 156GW of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores, and a plan to deploy 5GW of offshore wind by 2030.

“We have an opportunity to sell this electricity to the entire New England region,” says project director Habib Dagher. “We [can] become an exporter of electrons, just like we export lobsters, export potatoes, export paper, we could be exporting electrons. It's another natural resource that we have that can create thousands of jobs here in the state."