Academics will work with the Maine Maritime Academy, Sandia National Laboratories, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to produce W2, which will be able to simulate wave and wind conditions similar to those found in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere.
The grant, from federal agency the National Science Foundation, will allow researchers to improve understanding of the effects of waves and wind shears, and to develop new methods of capturing renewable energy, as well as optimising the performance of existing renewable energy devices.
A floating offshore turbine was launched off the coast of Maine in May this year by DeepCwind, a University of Maine-led consortium. The prototype turbine was 1:8 the scale of a 6MW turbine.
In June this year, Norwegian company Statoil halted work on its 12MW Hywind floating turbine project, also off the coast of Maine, after local politicians passed legislation allowing the University of Maine until 1 September to put forward a bid to run a rival offshore pilot project.
Maine’s energy regulator, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), issued a request for proposals (RFP) in 2010 for up to 30MW of floating wind turbines off the state’s coast, and it approved an agreement for Statoil to develop its project in January this year.
The PUC then issued a supplemental RFP for deepwater offshore wind pilot projects in July.