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Maine floater weathers icy gales

Offshore turbine prototype withstands waves equivalent to 70 or 80 feet

Maine floater weathers icy gales image

The University of Maine’s scaled-down floating offshore wind turbine is handling the winter weather in the Gulf of Maine with aplomb.

“It’s performing exceptionally well,” UMaine project manager Jake Ward told reNews.

The 1:8 scale prototype VolturnUS turbine has been producing electricity off the coast of Castine since June 2013.

It has continued to operate through heavy rain and snowstorms, gale winds and temperatures down to -30 degrees, said Ward.

The blade pitch-adjustment system effectively shed considerable ice build-up. The turbine rode out waves that reached as high as seven to eight feet. At full-scale that’s equivalent to 70- to 80-feet waves that only happen in a 100-year storm, said Ward.

“The turbine is performing as close as the models predicted,” said Ward. The unit is moored in 80 feet of water about 1000 feet offshore.

The research scheme is the first phase in the 12MW $96m Maine Aqua Ventus 1 pilot project.

UMaine and partners Emera and Cianbro received regulatory approval this month for the terms of a power purchase agreement. The two-turbine demo is slated for deployment off Monhegan Island in 2016.

Image: 1:8 scale VolturnUS  has been producing electricity off the coast of Castine since June 2013 (UMaine)

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