ORONO — The gushing oil in the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder that the United States needs a comprehensive energy strategy in the coming decades, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said this afternoon at the University of Maine.

Chu’s comments came following a tour of the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, which has become a focal point of the state’s ambitions to become a national leader in offshore wind energy. The energy secretary has set a goal of producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind power by 2030. Today’s visit gave Chu the opportunity to see how Maine is positioning itself to play a role, and meet key political and business leaders who are supporting the effort.

Chu’s agency has already funneled $12.1 million to the center to design and test the country’s first floating wind turbine, expected to be operating for four months in the waters off Monhegan, in 2012. More than two dozen companies and institutions – working under the banner of the DeepCwind consortium – are involved in the effort.

Spending approved earlier this month by Maine voters will complement those funds, and help leverage an additional $12.4 million in federal money to build the first deepwater wind laboratory in the United States for manufacturing and testing of blades, towers and other wind turbine components. Chu saw the start of that project today, which is under construction next to the composites center and is set for completion in 2011.

Meanwhile, the state and university are preparing to seek bids in September to build the world’s first floating wind farm, in federal waters off the Maine coast.

Chu’s visit, the activity at the university, and the showing of bipartisan support from the state’s political leaders, sends a signal to industry that Maine is positioning itself to be a leader in global wind energy, according to Habib Dagher, the center’s director.