UMaine Composites Center Recognized as Pioneer in Ocean Energy

Contact: Habib Dagher, (207) 581-2123; Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777

The University of Maine’s AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center received an Academic Pioneer Award Thursday for its contribution to the field of ocean energy.

Habib Dagher, the center’s director, was on hand to accept the award at the sixth annual EnergyOcean Conference at the Samoset Resort organized by the Ocean Energy Council.

Dagher, known internationally as an offshore wind and composites expert, also was part of a panel that discussed Maine’s plans for renewable ocean energy projects.

The goal of the two-and-a-half day conference, which gathered nearly 500 researchers, policymakers, and financiers, was to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the ocean energy market.
During the past several years, AEWC has been solving challenges driven by the state’s imminent energy crisis; the vast potential of Maine’s offshore wind resource; and the need for expertise and innovation in advanced structures and noncorrosive composite materials to harness the wind resource in the Gulf of Maine.

AEWC’s vision is to position the State of Maine and its University and its workforce as pioneers in offshore wind energy generation.

“There is the equivalent of 40 nuclear power plants of wind energy within 50 miles off Maine’s coast,” Dagher says.

The center already is working with experts both at the university and in partnerships with industry professionals who specialize in different areas that all will need to come together to make offshore wind energy generation a reality.

This expertise will be supported by an AEWC facilities expansion – an Advanced Wind Blade Prototyping Facility – to be completed in December 2009.

“Being recognized as a pioneer in ocean energy means that our hard work is paying off,” says Dagher. “We’ve come a long way and  AEWC and the University of Maine are committed to making offshore wind energy a reality.”

Two other organizations also received Academic Pioneer Awards: New England Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC) and The Center for Ocean Renewable Energy (CORE) at the University of New Hampshire.