North America is about to get its first grid-connected offshore wind turbine, thanks to the launch of the VolturnUS, which should be online and producing wind energy in the next couple of weeks.
The VolturnUS is a 1/8th scale prototype of a novel floating wind turbine design from the DeepCwind Consortium, and will gather data during its operation to help optimize the design of a full-sized (6MW) turbine that is in the works. The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center expects to be able to launch the final turbine design in 2016, so getting this scale version up and running will go a long way toward that goal.
The 20kW VolturnUS will be deployed off the coast of Castine, and will be connected to the Central Maine Power Co. grid. The project is part of one phase of a 12MW $93 million deepwater offshore wind demonstration program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, which could lead to quite a bit more clean energy infrastructure in coming years.
The goal of the VolturnUS program is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to 10 cents/kWh by 2020, which would bring wind energy costs in line with other, more traditional, sources of electricity, without being propped up with subsidies.
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