At the end of last year, Maine designated the waters offshore of Monhegan Island as one of three test sites for offshore wind energy development.
[Photo: a summer's day down by the dock, Monhegan Island, Maine.]
The Monhegan site was announced by Governor Baldacci last December as one of three offshore wind test sites, following a multi-agency review and extensive stakeholder processes. The Monhegan energy site will be developed by a diverse group called the DeepCWind Consortium, while two other sites - one near York, Maine's Boon Island, and one off Damariscove Island near Boothbay - are available for development of offshore wind test projects by private companies. Each site measures between 1 and 2 square miles, and all fall within in Maine’s territorial waters. For project developers, the practical upshot of this is that Maine, not the federal government, will have authority to regulate siting issues.
Who is DeepCWind? It's a consortium composed of a mix of private businesses and academics. DeepCWind has been successful at grant writing and fundraising; for example, the US Department of Energy has awarded the consortium an $8 million grant to support its research.
The DeepCWind Consortium is planning to develop a one-third scale test platform and turbine about two miles south of Monhegan Island. Exactly what type of platform will be tested is still up in the air, but choices under consideration include single spar, tension leg, and buoyancy stabilized designs.
As of right now, the Boon Island and Damariscove sites remain up for grabs as test sites for a commercial developer. Like the Monhegan site, they could be used to test technologies for generating offshore wind energy, and for transmitting it to the onshore grid. If DeepCWind succeeds, within the next several years, we'll see an offshore wind energy test site in the waters south of Monhegan, which may open the door to larger, commercial-scale projects farther offshore.
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