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The Castine wind experiment Print E-mail
Cape Wind is probably the most famous wind farm in America, which is especially telling since it doesn't exist. The planned 130 turbines in Massachusetts's Nantucket Sound have been controversial enough to receive national attention both support and protest ever since developers announced the project in 2001. After years of legal wrangling, community protests and regulatory hoop-jumping, its future is still uncertain. Cape Wind's promoters refer to it as "America's first offshore wind farm," yet not a single turbine has thus far been erected.

Meanwhile, this summer, two tugboats quietly hauled the first working offshore-wind turbine in America into place off the coast of Maine. Designed by the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, the turbine is 65 feet high and painted bright yellow. Built 28 miles inland in Brewer, Maine, then towed down the Penobscot River, it currently floats in the blue waters off the coast of a small town called Castine, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. The university named its turbine the VolturnUS, after the Roman god of the east wind and because of the pleasing combination of the terms "volt," "turn," and "US." In June, the university held a ceremony connecting the turbine to the U.S. power grid, with luminaries joining their voices in a sci-fi-inflected shout: "Energize, VolturnUS!"

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