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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

OTEC DEVELOPMENTS and FUTURE of OTEC

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OTEC DEVELOPMENTS and FUTURE of OTEC

There are currently no OTEC plants operating commercially. However, there have been and continue to be experimental operations and research done on this alternative energy source.
 

OTEC in Hawaii

 

    Using OTEC technology, cold seawater used at the

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) to air condition (cool) administration and laboratory buildings. Fifty tons of air conditioning are provided, saving NELHA approximatley $4000 per month in electricity costs. The system needs substantially less maintenance than the other, more traditional,compressor airconditioner systems.

Mini-OTEC, 1979

(top right)

The first successful at-sea, closed-cycle OTEC operation was on board the Mini-OTEC, a converted Navy barge working within the waters off Keahole Point. Operating for three months, from August-October 1979, Mini-OTEC generated around 50 kilowatts of gross power. The net power ranged from approximatley 10-17 kilowatts. The turbine generator allowed Mini-OTEC to produce a gross output of up to 55 kW. Because various processes must be performed on the ship to produce energy and transfer it, the net power output was around 15 kW.

OTEC-1, 1980

(bottom right)

    OTEC-1, also once a Navy tanker, tested within the confines of the waters off Kawaihae on the Kona Coast, heat exchangers and other components of a closed-cycle OTEC plant.  Investigations of the environmental effects of an ocean-stationed OTEC plant were studied. OTEC-1 was designed predominantly for research purposes rather than electricity production. This operation was founded by the US Department of Energ (USDOE).

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The Future of OTEC

Operations such as the ones mentioned above continue to be studied and researched, as scientists must learn more about OTEC before it can be made for commercial use. The expenses of OTEC, including the transport of the energy or fresh water it produces, as well as the building and securing of OTEC sites, stop it from becoming a likely alternative in the near future. Still, through further research, it is very possible that mankind may be looking at a greener earth, whether it be decades, centuries, or millennia from now; one which is powered by the sun and the ocean.

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