Photo/courtesy UMaine One reason that offshore wind has not caught on in the United States is the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but researchers at the University of Maine tried another approach on Friday [May 31] by launching a floating wind machine. It is the first offshore wind installation in United States waters, according to the Energy Department, which helped pay for it.

The tower, launched in Brewer, Maine, sits on 3 hollow concrete tubes and will be anchored in the Gulf of Maine. It is a mere 20 kilowatts in capacity, an amount of power that could be soaked up by a handful of big suburban houses on a hot summer day. But it is 1/8 the dimensions of the one the researchers hope to deploy in the next few years, a gigantic 6-megawatt model, with each blade as long as the wingspan of a Boeing 747.

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