UMaine deepwater offshore wind technology tests proceeding in the Netherlands

May 2, 2011

University of Maine engineering students and researchers working at a facility in the Netherlands are now into the third week of testing scale models of deepwater floating offshore wind platforms for wind turbines.

The team from UMaine’s AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center, is testing 1/50th-scale models at an offshore wind basin owned by a Dutch company called Marin. Three different types of floating platforms are being tested 16 hours a day and are being subjected to different wind and wave intensity levels that mimic conditions in the Gulf of Maine in side-by-side comparison tests.

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The first week or so of testing involved some troubleshooting due to instrumentation issues but testing has proceeded smoothly since then, said Heather Martin, a graduate research assistant at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center who returned last Friday from a two-week trip to the Marin basin. Martin designed the blades and turbine on the prototype.

"It was difficult at first but we made it through, and the testing results we’re getting right now are what we expected," said Martin, a graduate student in UMaine’s civil and structural engineering department who returned last Friday from a two-week trip to the Marin facility. "Things are progressing well. We’re following a pretty tight schedule and keeping to it, which is promising."

Testing in the will last a total of six weeks.

The scaled-down model is an early part of Phase 1 of the Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Plan, which aims by the year 2030 to have a commercial floating wind farm in the Gulf of Maine generating 5,000 megawatts of energy.

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