DOE awards $1M for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Studies
DOE awarded Lockheed Martin with two grants totaling $1 million to determine the viability of generating power using Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), which utilizes the temperature difference between cold seafloor water and warm surface water. Though not a new idea, the commercial applications and environmental dangers have never been assessed in successful pilot projects. Lockheed will begin their research by developing a GIS based software that will allow them to estimate the potential power generated by certain OTEC prime locations like Hawaii and Puerto Rico and provide solid data on how many terrawats (TW) can be expected from an OTEC facility.
Lockheed Martin's OTEC Capture Manager Robert Varley explains that the technology "has been demonstrated, but not at commercial scales. Because the initial plan is very expensive, you must build OTEC at large scale to make it cost-competitive. And these large sizes have not been demonstrated." Early studies estimate that building a station to generate 3-5 TW -- about 30 percent of global consumption -- will cost between $150-250 million.
Sea Water-based Air Conditioning (SWAC) is another ocean water technology already being employed in Hawaii, Ottawa and Stockholm.