(OW) The Governor of Maine’s Energy Office has released the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, a stakeholder-driven comprehensive plan that is said to offer detailed strategies for Maine to realize economic, energy, and climate benefits from offshore wind, in conjunction with communities, fisheries, and wildlife of the Gulf of Maine.
The Roadmap was developed over 18 months led by a 24-person advisory committee with members from this US State’s agencies and energy, economic, fisheries, wildlife, science, and environmental leaders in Maine. The advisory committee was supported by four expert working groups on energy, economy, fisheries, and wildlife. Together, nearly 80 public sessions were held to develop the Roadmap.
Objectives of the Roadmap are organized around five key topics – supporting economic growth and resiliency, harnessing renewable energy, advancing Maine-based innovation, supporting Maine’s seafood industry, and protecting the Gulf of Maine’s ecosystem.
Key findings of the Roadmap are that Maine has 80 companies engaging in the US offshore wind industry, which is expected to generate USD 109 billion in private investment by 2030; and that workforce opportunities in offshore wind cover nearly 120 occupations in Maine, such as engineering, electricians, metalworkers, marine operations, surveying, boat building and maintenance, and research and development.
Other key findings show that over the long-term, offshore wind will reduce Maine and New England’s reliance on expensive, imported natural gas to generate electricity and meet an increasing demand for clean energy to curb carbon emissions and fight climate change; UMaine’s pioneering floating offshore wind research offers Maine an opportunity for leadership in this growing industry, as the US works to achieve a national target of 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind energy by 2035; and that offshore wind must advance responsibly in Maine to preserve the state’s marine economy, especially fishing, and protect the vital ecosystem of the Gulf of Maine and the individuals, communities and wildlife that depend on it.
To inform these objectives, the Roadmap commissioned several detailed technical studies of the economic, socioeconomic, and energy needs and impacts of offshore wind.
”Our state has the opportunity to unlock the power of offshore wind to generate clean, homegrown energy, lower energy costs, create good-paying jobs in a growing industry, and protect our environment for future generations,” said Maine’s Governor Janet Mills.
”The Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, developed collaboratively by a wide range of stakeholders, offers a responsible, forward-looking plan for how we can harness the power of wind far off the coast in the Gulf of Maine to seize the economic and environmental benefits for our state in collaboration with industries, families, and coastal communities that we care so deeply about.”
The Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, which was supported by a USD 2.1 million grant from the US Economic Development Agency, is part of the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative, a multi-faceted approach to responsible offshore wind in Maine launched by Governor Janet Mills in 2019 and overseen by the Governor’s Energy Office.
The release of the Roadmap comes after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) last month advanced an application by the State of Maine to lease a proposed site in Federal waters in the Gulf of Maine for a Floating Offshore Wind Research Array.
As the first project of its kind in the United States, the research array will foster cutting-edge research into the cost-effective operation of floating offshore wind and how it interacts with the marine environment, wildlife, the fishing industry, shipping and navigation routes, and more.
The array is proposed to include 10-12 turbines on semi-submersible floating concrete platforms known as VolturnUS, designed by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composite Center. The final size and location of the research site will be determined by BOEM during its leasing review process, which will continue this year.
Since the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative was launched in 2019, the pace of the offshore wind in the US has accelerated as clean energy generation targets set by the Federal government and many states increase demand for commercial-scale projects in deep Federal waters, where floating platform technology will likely be required.
In September 2022, the US Departments of Energy, Interior, Commerce and Transportation collectively announced a new initiative – the Floating WindShot – to accelerate floating wind by setting a national target of generating 15 gigawatts of energy from floating wind by 2035, and reduce the cost of this energy by 70 per cent.
In January, BOEM released its draft area for potential commercial offshore wind leasing in the Gulf of Maine and held a series of public meetings across New England on its planning process leading up to its proposed sale of commercial offshore wind leases in the Gulf of Maine in 2024.