The State of Maine submits this application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for a research lease in federal waters in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) to allow for a small-scale array of floating offshore wind turbines (the Research Array), with the express purpose of conducting research that will foster better co-existence between floating offshore wind projects and Maine’s heritage industries and the marine environment. Maine has some of the most ambitious statutory requirements in the country to address climate change and utilize renewable energy and offshore wind will become increasingly important to achieving these requirements. Due to water depths in the GOM, floating platform technology will be required to realize this opportunity.
In 2019, the Governor signed bipartisan legislation to address climate change and require investment in clean energy, including decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, and requiring 80 percent renewable energy by 2030 with the goal of 100 percent by 2050. Harnessing the unequaled wind resources off the coast of Maine is a critical component of Maine’s climate, clean energy, and economic goals. Further, this effort is of importance in the GOM, where surface temperatures peaked in 2020 and have been warming faster than nearly every other body of water in the world, creating a substantial threat to our traditional fishing industries.
With some of the highest sustained wind speeds in the world, the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the GOM has great potential for generating clean energy and economic opportunity for Maine, as offshore wind investment in the U.S. is estimated to be considerable over the next decade. In Maine’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy1 and a recent Clean Energy Economy report2 from the Governor’s Energy Office, the development of Maine as a hub for offshore wind development was identified as a key opportunity to grow and attract economic development to Maine. This Project is an investment in research and development, a catalyst for achieving those goals, with support solidified by bipartisan legislation passed and the Governor signed legislation supporting this development. The Research Array is a key component of the State’s efforts to set forth a balanced agenda that maximizes economic benefits for Maine people while creating a culture of innovation that creates a foundation for future leadership in this growing industry. Further, recent actions also highlight the continued interest in future, large-scale development in federal waters, including the GOM, such as the Biden Administration’s March 29, 2021 announcement of a federal target of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and a multi-agency plan to advance commercial-scale projects on the East Coast.