Maine’s push to develop offshore wind power cleared a significant hurdle Thursday when the federal government determined that there is no competitive interest in the state’s application to lease 9,700 acres on the U.S. continental shelf for a floating offshore wind power research site.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision means it will move forward with its review of Maine’s application for a floating array with 10 to 12 turbines featuring patented technology developed by the University of Maine. The site could begin producing power commercially by 2028.

Maine’s research application could be used to inform any future commercial offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine, as well as the deployment of floating offshore wind technology nationwide.

The state has identified a 15.2-square-mile area of federal waters in the Gulf of Maine about 45 miles offshore from Portland for its floating wind power array. The final size and specific location of the research site will be determined by the bureau during its leasing review process.

Lissa Eng, spokesperson for the bureau, said Thursday night that the next step will be for the lease application to undergo an environmental assessment. She was unsure of when that review would start or how long it would take to complete.

Gov. Janet Mills’ administration praised the bureau’s decision.


“This decision by BOEM is a positive step forward in Maine’s responsible pursuit of floating offshore wind research,” Dan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, said in a statement. “The research array is the cornerstone of Maine’s judicious approach to floating offshore wind, which emphasizes cooperation and collaboration with Maine’s fishing industry and environmental community.”

A lobster boat passes the country’s first floating wind turbine, an experimental, small-scale version off the coast of Castine, in September 2013. Associated Press/Robert F. Bukaty

Representatives of Maine’s lobstering industry, including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the Maine Lobstering Union, did not respond to requests Thursday night for an interview about the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision.

Maine lobstermen have opposed a UMaine demonstration project of the floating wind turbine technology off Monhegan Island, and last year they engaged in a dispute with survey vessels setting out the route of an underwater cable to the mainland.

The state said that for more than a decade, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, led by engineering professor Habib Dagher, has designed and developed floating concrete hull technology for offshore wind turbines. Floating platforms are considered essential to deep-water offshore wind energy.

“We are excited to see this technology and innovation, a decade in the making with the leadership of the state’s research university, be able to move forward to the next level,” UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said Thursday.



The state’s offshore wind research partner also hailed the federal agency’s decision, describing it as a major step toward protecting the Gulf of Maine, establishing a new industry in Maine and producing renewable power. Though there are more steps that must happen between today’s announcement and the issuance of a wind lease, New England Aqua Ventus said the determination by the federal agency represents a significant step forward.

“This announcement is an important milestone in the state of Maine’s prudent approach to comprehensive research and analysis of floating offshore wind prior to commercial scale development in the Gulf of Maine,” said Chris Wisseman of Diamond Offshore Wind.

New England Aqua Ventus, in addition to partnering with the state, also is partnering on the offshore wind project with Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables.

“Today’s announcement is another step forward to establish the state of Maine as a leader in responsibly developed commercial scale floating offshore wind and we commend BOEM for their timely action,” RWE spokesperson Katie Theoharides said.

The purpose of the array is to study the operation of a multiturbine wind farm floating in deep water in the Gulf of Maine. It will help determine the impacts of larger-scale projects and subsea cables to the mainland on the marine environment and existing uses, such as fishing. The wind power array will be able to produce 144 megawatts and is expected to become operational by the end of the decade.

Offshore wind is ramping up to become a multibillion-dollar energy sector along the Eastern Seaboard, with projects planned or taking shape from the Carolinas to Massachusetts. All those projects, however, are in shallow water using technology pioneered decades ago in Europe.


The proposals in Maine are for the next generation of wind energy, using semisubmersible platforms floating far offshore, where winds are stronger and steadier. The UMaine technology relies on a concrete hull that can be built locally and compete with steel construction and ports being developed in Europe and Asia.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine also is excited about the prospect of the offshore wind array.

“Offshore wind represents an opportunity for Maine to develop a leading, innovative clean energy industry. If we follow the science, offshore wind, wildlife, fishing and other activities in the Gulf of Maine can coexist as we embrace the vast benefits of wind power for our economy and our climate,” Jack Shapiro, Climate and Clean Energy Director at NRCM said.


ClimateWork Maine Executive Director Jeff Marks said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision could make Maine a player in the global market.

“The proposed research array is a balanced approach to this nascent industry and one that guides the state on how to best benefit from ample wind resources offshore. If Maine is to compete on a global scale, it must make commitments to attract financial investment,” Marks said.

The determination that there was no competitive interest in the Gulf of Maine region came after the bureau sought public comment on the lease proposal in August 2022. It received two proposals from developers that have been ruled out. Federal regulations require that the bureau identify whether or not there is competitive commercial interest in any area that is the subject of an unsolicited lease request.

Though the bureau’s decision on Thursday was encouraging, the federal agency said the state must follow several other steps before receiving a research lease. Those steps will include publishing a Determination of No Competitive Interest in the Federal Register, as well as initiating an environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind leasing activities.

The floating offshore wind research array, the first project of its kind project in the United States, will foster cutting-edge research into how floating offshore wind interacts with the marine environment, fishing industry, as well as shipping and navigation routes.

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