On October 19, 2010, Dr. Habib Dagher, director of the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, spoke for an hour and 16 minutes at the 1st annual Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Conference, about how the DeepCwind Consortium plan for developing over-the-horizon floating windfarms.Listen to his speech Dagher is followed by a panel of 4 scientists who talk for an hour on the likely environmental impacts of developing the offshore wind test center off Monhegan Island
WCSH TV Coverage: : NORTHPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- It has been a year since the DeepCwind Consortium received grant support from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop technology for wind turbines in deep water. On Monday that group, which is made up of state companies, manufacturers and researchers at the University of Maine hosted a special conference in Northport to discuss their progress and the current potential for offshore wind in Maine. It was open to state businesses, political leaders and even those who are skeptical of the idea.
At this time researchers say that there's enough wind off of the state's coast to produce levels of power equal to roughly 150 nuclear power plants. The goal of the consortium is to harness 3 percent of that energy over the next 20 years.
The University of Maine's Composites Center is currently working on a floating turbine and researchers say that they are looking to place it off of the coast of Monhegan Island by June of 2012. Eventually, members of the consortium hope to install a five-turbine, 25-megawatt wind farm in coastal waters.
Yet environmentalists are worried about what kind of effect those turbines will have on ocean currents and sea life.
So much of marine life spends a lot of time in the larval state as plankton," said Ron Huber, who is the executive director for the environmental group Penobscot Bay Watch, "It's totally at the mercy of water currents and you want to be very cautious about anything that can disrupt or change the nature of those currents."
"We have fish tags and mammal tags," remarked Habib Dagher, who is director of the university's composite center, noting that tests are already underway at the proposed turbine test site, "so we're studying that before the turbine gets into the water and then when we put the turbine in the water, then we'll see what difference it makes and that's the only way to find out."
The Maine Public Utilities Commissions is already taking bids for the construction of the 25-megawatt farm. Supporters of the project say those bids are due by next May.