ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s Advanced Engineering and Wood Composites Center has been awarded a $3 million grant to purchase equipment for its offshore wind testing facility.
The Economic Development Administration grant will allow the facility to purchase robotics equipment so new and advanced that it doesn’t exist yet, said Habib Dagher, director of the wood composites center.
“This technology won’t exist anywhere else, as far as we know,” Dagher said after finding out about the award Tuesday.
The robotics will create composite materials with a precision and speed that can’t be matched by existing technology, Dagher said. Those composites will be used in turbine blades, towers and bases.
“These will last longer when they’re being used offshore and will be lighter weight,” he said.
The robotics will take about 16 months for an outside group to develop, build and install at the wind facility, according to Dagher.
The lab had to compete with Maine, regional and national groups for the economic development grant. Dagher said he was thrilled that the project has drawn so much interest.
The Offshore Wind Lab opens officially in November. Soon after, the facility will begin testing the first wind turbine blade.
Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Mike Michaud released statements celebrating the grant as an opportunity to help the Offshore Wind Laboratory push forward with turbine blade testing for a future floating wind turbine farm in the Gulf of Maine.
“This funding will help provide the laboratory with the resources it needs to continue developing and testing new technology that will help diversify America’s energy supply, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and spur the creation of thousands of badly needed new jobs in Maine,” Collins said.