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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) describes a source of renewable energy that is growing in popularity amongst tropical island nations. Warm seawater from the surface is run through a heat converter, to turn a chemical with a low boiling point, such as ammonia, into steam which then turns a turbine to generate electricity. Cold seawater is then pumped from over a kilometre deep and used to chill the steamed ammonia.
The Bahamas have recently signed an agreement with a Pennsylvanian company, OTE Corporation, to build two 10 megawatt plants. Interestingly, OTE Corp. plan to pump far more cold water than necessary to their land based plants so that it can be used for water desalination or to grow commodities that prefer cooler climates.
The cold seawater will be pumped through a pipe eight feet in diameter and sent to an eco-industrial park for producing fresh water, mariculture (the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products), aquaculture, and to help cool temperate greenhouses.
OTE Corporation also has projects lined up in the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.
Lockhead Martin is another company developing OTEC power plants. There plants are ocean based, unlike those of OTE corp. and also will only focus on producing electricity. They have plans to build a 10 megawatt plant soon, with the hope of a 100 megawatt plant in the future. Gary Feldman, the director of business development for new business ventures at Lockhead Martin, said that, “it’s a very scalable technology. This is a very exciting time for OTEC.”
By. Joao Piexe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com