Global OTEC Resources has developed an innovative concept by using ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) specifically for ‘off-grid’ resorts and local islands in countries such as the Maldives and Caribbean. The company has stated in a statement that it has reached a cost model for harnessing the thermal energy stored in oceans which is comparable to, if not cheaper than, the cost of running diesel generators.

Global OTEC Resources states that the concept will deliver a net capacity of 1-MW of electricity to its customers across the tropics which is enough to fully power most small-to-midsized resorts or islands.

The concept works through an OTEC plant housed on a floating barge which incorporates a deep cold-water pipe into its hull through a ‘weathervaning’ turret mooring system. The cold-water pipe returns seawater from a depth of 1,000m, achieving the temperature difference with the warm surface water of 20 degrees centigrade. Ammonia is then repeatedly evaporated and condensed to power a turbine and produce electricity.

The turret and mooring system is designed primarily to allow the unit to align itself with incident weather conditions in order to withstand large wave heights and wind speeds, which is critical for many locations across the tropics.

The company has decided to focus its design on the needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) due to the fact that many small islands consume over 10,000 litres of diesel a day. Managing Director Dan Grech says: “Many meetings with both private and public sector representatives in our target markets have indicated that currently, renewables aren’t presenting a viable proposition for islands to cut their dependence on fossil fuels. Thousands of islands lack the space for large solar and battery installations to provide their basic daily electricity loads and feel ‘stuck’ with diesel generators despite the threat climate change presents to their livelihoods.”

“Our next stage is to advance the detail of this design to be ready for fabrication. Our first ocean thermal energy systems will come online in less than two years.”

Dan Grech, visiting the Maldives in December 2018.

Richard Argall, leading the design of the project’s OTEC system, says, “I’ve been involved in several projects in the last decade and a half with others who have tried valiantly to get huge OTEC development off the ground. This project takes a sensible approach de-risking the technology, starting with small-scale niche applications like remote island communities and that gives it a huge chance of success”.

What is OTEC?

OTEC is an application of solar energy that exploits the heat that the ocean captures from the sun’s rays. It possesses huge environmental advantages over fossil fuels and nuclear power; avoids land-use problems associated with renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric power; and has the potential to produce far more useful and affordable energy than could be obtained from other renewable sources. For more information www.otecresorts.com.