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Cianbro and UMaine Launch First Offshore Wind Turbine in North America

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, Cianbro, and partners held a launch celebration today for VolturnUS 1:8, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine to be deployed off the coast of North America.  The event was hosted by Cianbro at the Eastern Manufacturing Facility in Brewer, Maine where the UMaine designed and Cianbro-built floating wind turbine prototype has been assembled after being unveiled at a ceremony on the UMaine campus in Orono earlier this month.  Honored guests included Maine's U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Congressman Michael Michaud, the director of Maine ’s Office of Energy, representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and business and civic leaders.  The highlight of the event was a traditional launch of the floating wind turbine by Senator Collins.  UMaine Professor Habib Dagher and Cianbro Chairman & CEO Pete Vigue led the celebration.  Members of the joint Cianbro and UMaine construction and design team, including Cianbro Senior Project Manager Red Webster, joined in the ceremonies.

After christening, the VolturnUS floating turbine was lifted by a Cianbro crane and set into the Penobscot River in preparation for a two-day journey by tugboat to an anchorage offshore of Castine, Maine.  The turbine will be connected to the grid there for further experimentation. The voyage to Castine is set to begin later this weekend after currents in the river subside following the steady rains of recent days.

The prototype is approximately 65 feet tall and is 1:8th the scale of a 6 megawatt (MW), 423-foot rotor diameter design.  It is the first floating turbine of its kind in the world, using advanced material systems with a unique floating hull and tower design.  The program goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation with no subsidies.

Maine has 156 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores and a plan to deploy five gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The five gigawatts plan could potentially attract $20 billion of private investment to the state, creating thousands of jobs.

The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than five years of collaborative research and development conducted by the UMaine-led DeepCwind Consortium.  Data acquired during the 2013 deployments off Castine and Monhegan will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS system.

The UMaine Composites Center has partnered with industry leaders to invest in a 12 megawatt, $96 million pilot farm, in preparation for connecting the first full-scale unit to the grid in 2016.

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