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Offshore turbine set for plug-in

VolturnUS demonstrator to put first power on Maine electrical grid today

Offshore turbine set for plug-in image

A University of Maine-led consortium tomorrow plans to interconnect the first grid-linked offshore wind turbine along the US coast.

DeepCWind last week anchored a one-eighth-scale floating turbine with a semi-submersible concrete foundation in 80 feet of water about 300 feet offshore Castine, Maine. The VolturnUS demonstrator carries a 20kW Renewegy turbine.

The launch went smoothly, UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center spokesperson Elizabeth Viselli told reNews. “It deployed like a champ and it’s floating like a champ,” said Viselli.

Researchers have been testing and pre-commissioning the turbine and equipment.

“Everything is fully operational,” said Viselli.

VolturnUS will interconnect to the Central Maine Power (CMP) grid at Dyce Head. A 480V 60A three-phase service cable will tie into a distribution line. CMP, an Iberdrola-owned utility, will buy the output. The turbine will remain at the Castine site over the summer.

“The wind and waves scale to exactly one-eighth what a full-scale unit would see in deeper waters further offshore,” said Viselli. The four- to six-foot seas experienced over the past few days are equivalent to 30- to 50-foot waves for a full-size turbine.

VolturnUS will be towed to an open-ocean site about 2.5 miles off of Monhegan Island following testing at Castine. Researchers will study deployment and operations logistics although the unit will not be grid-connected. The site is about 12 miles from the mainland with depths up to 400 feet.

The research project is the first phase in a 12MW $96m pilot wind farm, slated for deployment in 2016. The two-turbine Aqua Ventus 1 project is in the running for $47m in Energy Department funding, a follow-on to a $4m grant for a 50% front end engineering and design study.

The project will proceed whether or not it gets additional DOE funds, said Viselli. “Our partners and the investors we’ve spoken with so far are very invested in this project.”

Linked in: VolturnUS is slated to start sending power to the grid on 13 June (UMaine)

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