On Thursday, the Governor’s Energy Office released the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, a stakeholder-driven comprehensive plan that offers strategies for Maine to gather possible 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 in a robust public process led by a 24-person advisory committee with members from State 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 include:
- Today, Maine has 80 companies engaging in the U.S.’s offshore wind industry, which is expected to generate $109 billion in private investment by 2030;
- 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.
- 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 U.S. works to achieve a national target of 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind energy by 2035;
- Offshore wind must advance responsibly in Maine to preserve the state’s thriving 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. To read the full Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap (PDF), its Executive Summary (PDF), and these studies, please visit maineoffshorewind.org.
The Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, which was supported by a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency, is part of the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative, 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 percent.
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.
In advance of commercial leasing, Governor Janet Mills has pressed the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees BOEM, to involve Maine fishermen in Federal plans for leasing in the Gulf of Maine for commercial offshore wind.
To preserve State waters for recreation and fishing and cement into law Maine’s priority of locating offshore wind projects in Federal waters in the Gulf of Maine, Governor Mills in 2021 signed LD 1619, which prohibits new offshore wind projects in State waters.
The Mills Administration continues to encourage BOEM to increase its engagement with Maine stakeholders and the public as its leasing plans for the Gulf of Maine progress.
Other offshore wind initiatives include the Maine Offshore Wind Research Consortium, an assembly of fisheries, wildlife, and marine science and industry experts advising the State’s offshore wind research; evaluation of offshore wind port locations, led by the Maine Department of Transportation; and advocating for Maine’s interests in Federal plans for commercial offshore wind leasing through the Gulf of Maine Task Force.
In addition to GEO, the Roadmap received support from other state agencies, including the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Port Authority, and the Department of Transportation.