UMaine platform to be removed next month

UNITED STATES: University of Maine's (UMaine) 1:8 scale-model of the VolturnUS floating platform will be taken out of the water in November.

A 1:8 scale model of UMaine's VolturnUS platform could be removed from the water

The university's vice president for innovation and economic development, Jake Ward, said the first phase of the scale model testing project was coming to an end of its agreed permit term.

A scale model of the 6MW platform has been operating off the Castine peninsula in Maine for over a year. Ward believed the 17-month permit had given the university enough information to support plans for a longer deployment in the future.

Explaining the short fixed-term deployment, Ward said: "Because of the fixed duration of the Department of Energy (DoE) grants and the lack of actual performance data prior to initial deployment - permits were sought for temporary deployment.

"This initial deployment data will be invaluable for applying for additional permits if a future deployment is necessary."

Ward hopes the project can receive more research and development funding in order to continue testing the platform in the water. He said the model could be moved to another area.

"The 17-month deployment including a full winter has given us a very wide variety of wind/wave events including 50-year and 500-year equivalent scaled events.

"The 1:8 scale platform could be considered a laboratory now," he said.

Last month, UMaine received $3.8 million from the DoE to complete the full-scale design of the VolturnUS floating platform.

The university missed out on a $47 million DoE grant in May. The money would have been used to help develop the two-turbine 12MW Aqua Ventus project, which is due to use the floating platform.

It leaves the Aqua Ventus short of funds but Ward wants to focus on completing VolturnUS platform's design.

"Not receiving the DoE funding has slowed us down, but we are confident in the technology. All the indicators are good.

"We are open to other types of funding but it is premature to get financial backing before the design phase is complete," said Ward.

In early October, residents in Bristol, Maine objected to plans to install a transmission cable in the town connecting the proposed Aqua Ventus project to the grid.