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New “roadmap” for offshore wind power

Maine’s new roadmap to increase the usage of offshore wind power has just been released in a 111-page document.

The roadmap has been in progress for 18 months and was created in large part due to a $2.166 million grant from the United States Economic Development Administration. There are five main topics outlined in the roadmap: economic growth, renewable energy, Maine-based innovation, the seafood industry, and maintenance of the Gulf of Maine’s ecosystem. A unique aspect of the roadmap is that it mainly focuses on floating offshore wind power. In contrast to the more common developments in shallower waters, Maine will be a frontrunner in developing turbine platforms that can float by being anchored to the seabed. 

The roadmap also explores the effects of expansionary offshore wind power on energy markets, infrastructure, manufacturing, and socioeconomic factors while detailing a growth plan. 

By 2030, Maine intends to be using 80 percent renewable energy with a push towards 100 percent by 2040. Maine will, in theory, achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 and also increase its number of jobs in clean energy sectors to 30,000. In a letter from the Maine Offshore Roadmap Co-Chairs, they write, “Maine and the surrounding regions will need offshore wind as part of a diverse portfolio of clean energy to decarbonize our current energy supply and replace expensive, imported fossil fuels. Offshore wind is an essential component of our path toward a stronger, healthier, and cleaner energy future.” 

Another benefit highlighted in the roadmap is that increased independence from fossil fuels will give Maine residents more control over their energy usage. Maine is currently one of the states most dependent on fossil fuels, making it vulnerable to sudden and dramatic price changes. The co-chairs wrote, “International events, most notably Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have triggered major disruptions in global energy markets, which have resulted in expensive and volatile energy prices.”

Maine’s reliance on fossil fuels stems from its dependence on oil and kerosene to heat homes. With some of the highest wind speeds in the world, the Gulf of Maine offers a promising site to harness renewable energy and reduce the pressures on the state’s long-term energy needs. 

Currently, there are nearly 80 Maine firms that are ready to or already engaging in the international offshore wind power industry. The University of Maine is also researching and developing floating offshore wind power strategies. 

Offshore wind presents more job opportunities to Maine residents. In regions with high rates of seasonal employment, the roadmap document states, “These regions, communities, and residents would stand to benefit from the enhanced employment opportunities, including stability of increased annual employment opportunities, that offshore wind could offer.”

Outside of job creation, the roadmap argues that Maine’s economy will be strengthened and protected because the state can be established as a national and global leader in technology and energy. The roadmap insists that increased investment in the offshore wind energy industry will provide Maine with opportunities to establish groundbreaking infrastructure, research, and innovations.

There are concerns about the costs of the initiatives in the roadmap. Jack Shapiro, the Climate and Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, stated that most of the cost of building the floating turbines will be taken on by the companies that operate and sell the electricity produced. One commenter on an article in Central Maine News, “Maine’s new ‘roadmap’ for offshore wind power follows a complex route,” writes, “Yeah sure, they’ll use the tech Maine taxpayers paid for at the University of Maine and then get a high-priced long-term contract funded by ratepayers, using workers trained with taxpayer funds and a new port built with our tax money, so they can milk us from now to forever.” 

The roadmap and other related resources can be found on the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative website.


~ Vivian Nguyen ’25

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