Session 9 – Blueprint for 100% Renewable Energy

Thursday, April 1, 10:00AM-12:00PM

Co-Chairs: Phil Coupe and Emily Nadeau, Revision Energy

Session Schedule


How Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Can Heat Every Home and Fuel Every Car

Habib Dagher
Executive Director, UMaine Advanced Structures & Composites Center

The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the ocean causing significant impacts on Maine’s economy, public health, and marine ecosystems. In her ‘State of the State’ address, Governor Janet T. Mills spoke of fishermen reporting invasive green crabs decimating fisheries, the tenfold increase in Lyme disease, and the threat of rising sea levels on Maine’s most iconic locations along Route 1. Meanwhile, Mainers rank 11th nationally, and the highest in the Northeast, in total energy expenditures per capita. Much of this money leaves the state. What can Maine do to fight climate change and keep our energy dollars local?
Research being conducted at the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center is tackling this challenge head-on. Our cutting-edge offshore wind research is capitalizing on Maine’s largest untapped energy resource, offshore wind, to advance clean, domestic energy while strengthening Maine’s economy. The Gulf of Maine has 156 GW of energy capacity, enough capacity to power the entire state more than 65 times over, representing one of the best offshore wind energy resources in the United States. That energy resource is over deep water, too deep for the fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines widely used in Europe.For more than 12 years, UMaine has led the development of the patented VolturnUS floating concrete hull technology that can support wind turbines in water depths of 150 feet or more. We are poised to launch the first commercial-scale floating offshore wind turbine in the Americas. The VolturnUS technology will be demonstrated in a project, New England Aqua Ventus I, that will deploy a single 9.5-10 MW turbine off Monhegan Island. In November 2019, the project reached a critical milestone, the power purchase agreement was unanimously approved by the Maine PUC, making it the most advanced floating offshore wind project in the U.S. With over $40 million in funding from the Department of Energy and 42 U.S. and international patents, the project aims to make Maine a leader in an emerging maritime industry and help transform Maine’s energy future by keeping our energy dollars in the state, create clean energy jobs, and fight climate change.

A New Energy Policy Direction for Maine: A Pathway to a Zero-Carbon economy by 2050

Richard Silkman
CEO, Competitive Energy Services

A video of this presentation is available

Over the past fifty years, energy policy in Maine has been driven alternatively by competitive pressures to keep energy prices low and environmental imperatives to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. The net result of these efforts is that today energy prices in Maine are higher than the national average, while emissions are somewhat lower. Maine has paid a high price to achieve marginal reductions in GHG emissions.

In his talk, Silkman will look to the next thirty years and specifically whether there is a feasible pathway for Maine to achieve a zero-carbon economy at a reasonable cost. This pathway is based on two pillars – the conversion of transportation, heating and processes to electricity (so-called “beneficial electrification”) and the decarbonizing of the electricity sector through the development of renewable generation and battery storage (so-called “deep decarbonization”). Assuming reasonable rates of conversion of all sectors to electricity over the next thirty years and continuing declines in the real prices of solar photovoltaic systems and on-shore and off-shore wind generation and, importantly, declines in the costs of battery storage capacity, Silkman shows how Maine can accomplish a thirty-year transition to a zero-carbon economy without increasing the total amount it spends on energy each year, relative to the average it has spent each year over the past twenty years.

Baseload Renewable Energy from Rivers and Tides

Tagwongo Obomsawin
Ocean Renewable Power Company, Portland, ME

A video of this presentation is available

Maine has adopted a bold new vision for the future of energy in this state. Our regional electricity grid is evolving, becoming more renewable, more decentralized, and more resilient to climate change. Maine’s abundant coastal and river resources can provide a source of predictable, reliable, and renewable energy for our communities, helping us to achieve our vision for a resilient and sustainable future. ORPC’s river and tidal power systems offer a unique, baseload renewable power source that creates local jobs, diversifies our energy supply, and increases the resiliency of renewable electricity grids. With over a decade of collaboration with Maine’s universities, coastal communities, and local businesses, and over $37 Million spent, ORPC is proud to play a role in our growing clean energy economy.

Maine Companies & Universities Have What it Takes to Abandon Fossil Fuels

Phil Coupe
Co-founder, ReVision Energy, Liberty, ME

A video of this presentation is available

Maine has the highest per capita carbon emissions in New England, and every year Mainers export $5 billion from the local economy to import fossil fuels from away. This over-reliance on oil, gas and propane is not only a drain on the state’s economy, but also a direct threat to key economic sectors, like marine fisheries and tourism, that depend on clean air, water and land. The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water on earth, and rising temperatures and ocean acidification are already having measurable negative impacts on our shellfish and groundfish stocks. The good news is that Maine people, businesses and institutions are taking decisive action to achieve Gov. Janet Mills’ goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045. Maine’s offshore wind resource has been described as the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’ (comparing our wind power potential to the vast Saudi underground oil reserves). Dr. Habib Dagher will demonstrate how emerging composite technology can be used to construct durable wind turbines that can both harness our abundant offshore wind power and be durable enough to withstand the extreme North Atlantic marine environment. Similarly, UMaine graduate and ORPC manager Tagwongo Obomsawin will demonstrate how Ocean Renewable Power Company is developing and deploying underwater turbine technology to harness ocean and river currents to generate baseload power from tides and river currents across the globe. Since 2003, Maine-based ReVision Energy has installed more than 9,000 clean energy systems in northern New England. As clean technology costs have plummeted, solar combined with complementary technologies like heat pumps, battery storage and electric vehicles has become cost-competitive with fossil fuels. It’s now cheaper to drive a solar-powered electric car than a gas-powered car, and solar-powered heat pumps deliver heat at the cost equivalent of buying oil at $1.80/gallon. The purpose of the Blueprint for 100% Renewable Energy is to illuminate for people the cost-effective pathways to zero carbon emissions and to demonstrate the impressive progress and significant results achieved to date in Maine. The main conclusion of the work is confirmation of the reality that we now have the cost-effective tools we all need to abandon fossil fuels.

Question and Answer Session