Home Frank Short Ocean Thermal Energy a future possibility for Pacific Islands countries? 

Ocean Thermal Energy a future possibility for Pacific Islands countries? 

The national government on Monday announced the formal completion of a financing agreement for the Tina River Hydropower Development Project, which will see the country move from virtual total reliance on imported diesel to majority renewable energy that will significantly cut power costs and emissions.

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With renewable energy schemes in mind I came across a renewable energy system that uses deep ocean water to generate power.

I knew of several systems already in use in different parts of the world using the force of the sea’s waves to generate power but a system of generating power by using “deep ocean water” was intriguing  and such a system was described today as being considered for Kirabati.

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The story unfolded in a news bulletin from Radio New Zealand and I believe it to be worth sharing.

Here are some of the relevant details, quote:

A renewable energy system that uses deep ocean water to generate power is scheduled to move from 45 years of experimentation to seeing the world’s two largest ocean thermal facilities installed in islands in the Pacific and Caribbean next year

“The 100-kilowatt Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant in Kumejima, Okinawa is one of several experimental facilities globally. S. Korean and Dutch initiatives are moving OTEC from experimental technology to commercial application levels.

“Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), long promoted as a viable clean energy source but one that has remained obscure in the demonstration stage for decades, is getting a boost from South Korean and Dutch initiatives, providing a “sense of momentum” to the OTEC industry, said Benjamin Martin, who works for the Global Ocean reSource and Energy Association Institute, which operates a 100 kilowatt OTEC plant in Kumejima, Okinawa.

“Over the past 10 years, the Marshall Islands promoted OTEC power as an energy option for the country with the hope of developing a large-scale commercial OTEC plant to provide power to the US Army’s missile testing base at Kwajalein.

“While the Marshall Islands plan never came to fruition, a South Korean initiative will see the first OTEC plant for the Pacific Islands installed in Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati next year. A second, larger OTEC plant will be placed on an island in the Caribbean.

“The use of ocean thermal energy conversion was first popularised by best-selling author Jules Verne in his 1870 book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

“The Kiribati and Caribbean developments herald a significant expansion of OTEC use after many decades of small, experimental plants in operation in various countries.

“Though still small by power plant standards, the new OTEC plants for the Pacific and Caribbean will be 10 to 30 times bigger than experimental plants, such as the facility in Okinawa, currently in operation.

“Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion is a clean, renewable energy source that uses deep ocean water to generate power from the difference in the temperature of the surface water and the deep water in the ocean.

“Aside from power generation, the deep ocean water pumped up by an OTEC plant is clean and nutrient-filled – and is being used to support business development in various countries.

“Surrounding the 100 kilowatt OTEC plant in Kumejima, Okinawa, for example, are a range of businesses that make use of the deep ocean water for their products: cosmetics, seaweed, oysters and other aquaculture products.

“The South Korean government is funding a one megawatt OTEC plant that has been developed by the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering (KRISO), which will deliver it to Kiribati in 2020.

Based on its long-term demonstration in Kiribati, the research will continue to be carried out to enhance the efficiency and support for spreading the system to the South Pacific Islands and secure commercial OTEC design technology.”

Yours sincerely

Frank Short


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