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Pictures: America's First Offshore Wind Turbine to Start Spinning

May 31, 2013
(Maria Gallucci, InsideClimate News )

North America's first grid-connected offshore wind turbine will soon be spinning off the coast of Maine, generating enough electricity to power four homes. Workers from the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center deployed the 65-foot-tall prototype Friday in a ceremony near Brewer, Maine. The turbine will be towed 30 miles down river and hooked to Maine's electricity grid with an undersea cable within two weeks.

The offshore turbine is a first step for the fledgling U.S. offshore wind industry, which has tried and failed over the past decade to build wind farms in the waters off the East Coast. In Europe, nearly 1,700 turbines at 55 offshore wind farms provide electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes.

The prototype's technology is the result of more than five years of research and development work by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium, a public-private partnership with state and federal funding. The researchers aim to launch a 12-megawatt, $96 million pilot wind farm by 2016.

North America's first grid-connected offshore wind turbine is deployed off the coast of Brewer, Maine, on Friday. (Courtesy University of Maine)North America's first grid-connected offshore wind turbine is deployed off the coast of Brewer, Maine, on Friday. (Courtesy University of Maine)

The VolturnUS turbine stands 65 feet tall, one-eighth the size of a full scale model. (Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)The VolturnUS turbine stands 65 feet tall, one-eighth the size of a full scale model. (Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

Workers prepare the turbine prototype at Cianbro Constructor's manufacturing facility in Brewer (Courtesy University of Maine)Workers prepare the turbine prototype at Cianbro Constructor's manufacturing facility in Brewer (Courtesy University of Maine)

Cianbro crew members ready the turbine. (Courtesy University of Maine) Cianbro crew members ready the turbine. (Courtesy University of Maine)