Click to enlarge. From Wikipedia Commons, uploaded by StefKa81
Makai Ocean Engineering celebrated the completion of the world’s largest operational Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plant…Back in June, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed into law legislation directing the state’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.
The research and development at the plant was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) through the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), and the infrastructure was funded by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC).
Why should the Coast Guard care?
This is a technology to watch. The system uses the thermal difference between deep cold water and warm surface water to power a heat engine. This particular installation appears to be shore based, but if it becomes economically viable, since shore locations adjacent to both deep cold water and energy consumers are limited, these may grow into massive offshore structures. The working fluid is likely to be ammonia which is potentially hazardous. Most ideal locations for this technology are near the equator, much of it in the American Western Pacific EEZ, far from energy consumers. Rather that moving electricity directly ashore they may me used to produce a more portable form of energy, like hydrogen.
These facilities are also likely to provide a secondary benefit of interest to the CG as well, the upwelling of cold nutrient rich waters is expected to create a bloom of sea life. The fishery will need to be managed.