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UMaine Awarded $12.4 Million for Wind Facility 

More than 12 million dollars in federal stimulus funds are coming to the the University of Maine, to help advance their work to develop offshore wind power.The grant money from the U.S. Department of Commerce will help build a new 30 thousand square foot lab. In the new space, they’ll be able to build and test offshore wind technologies before putting them into deep water.They will also develop composite materials that can be used to build turbines durable enough to withstand harsh offshore conditions, and which capitalize on Maine’s natural abundance of wood. “The real opportunity here is job creation for the state of Maine. The state of Maine has the equivalent of 149 gigawatts, 149 nuclear power plants worth, of wind in the gulf of Maine. The idea here is to take that energy and create jobs in the state,” says Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.Sen. Susan Collins says 25 million federal dollars have been secured for UMaine’s offshore wind research program since October. “That’s going to give us a leap ahead, to position Maine as a world leader in developing offshore wind,” she says.The new lab will be built as an addition to the composites center. They’ve already broken ground and hope to open in a year.The funding is part of 120 million dollars in stimulus money announced Friday, to build scientific research facilities at 11 universities across the country.